‘If you want a $50 meal, go pay for it’: Alaska lawmaker introduces bill to limit legislative spending
Last week, Gov. Bill Walker froze travel for state employees. Now, an Anchorage representative wants to limit his own spending.
Rep. Les Gara pre-filed a bill Wednesday that would cap reimbursements for lawmakers and their staff. Under Gara’s bill, the state would pay up to $150 dollars a night for hotels — this summer, some legislators and staff spent more than $400 a night for a conference in Seattle.
The bill would also ban lawmakers from claiming per diem for events in their hometowns, and cap dinner reimbursements at $12.
“If you want a $50 meal, go pay for it,” Gara said. “We don’t have the kind of money to ask the public for legislators to eat ribeye.”
Gara said he hopes the bill will at least spark political dialogue on legislative travel spending.
“I think this bill is either going to pass, even though some folks will try to block it, or if it doesn’t pass, it will change the political practice of the Legislature,” Gara said. “It’s just an embarrassment for legislators to spend that kind of money.”
Sen. Anna Mackinnon, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said the bill is a political statement, and doesn’t think it will get much attention in her committee because there are bigger cost-saving bills for consideration.
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