Juneau lawmaker urges 75 percent cut to per diem pay
The Chair of the Alaska Legislature's Legislative Council wants to cut lawmaker per diem payments by 75 percent.
Rep. Sam Kito III scheduled a committee meeting Monday to review the legislature's per diem policy and suggests slashing per diem for lawmakers down to 25 percent of the federal winter rate, which members currently receive during regular session.
Kito's motion failed during a Legislative Council meeting, before lawmakers moved into executive session. The council did approve a motion from Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) not to increase per diem to the federal summer rate on May 1.
In January, the State of Alaska Officers Compensation Commission recommended eliminating per diem completely for Juneau lawmakers, starting in 2019. That recommendation was adopted after the legislature failed to reject it within 60 days.
Legislators from the capital city currently receive per diem payments at 75 percent the rate of non-Juneau members.
Now, Kito says if Juneau lawmakers take a cut, all others should, too.
"The recommendation made by ASOCC results in legislators outside of Juneau receiving over $24,000 in tax-free compensation during the regular 90-day session. Those per diem payments provide compensation in excess of what is necessary to live in Juneau for three months and can exceed $60,000 for years with three or more special sessions-- such as we saw in 2017," Kito wrote in a memo to Legislative Council members, ahead of the Monday meeting.
Kito asserts that the commission's recommendation goes against current state law, which requires that it recommend an equitable rate and form of compensation, benefits and allowances for legislators.
"In order to provide compensation equity during the regular 90-day session, extended 120-day session and special sessions, I have attached the modified Session Per Diem policy that acknowledges the recommendation from the ASOCC eliminating session per diem payments to legislators who live within 50 miles of their primary residence," Kito wrote. "The proposed policy also includes a reduction of 75% for legislators residing outside of 50 miles from the convening location."
Last month, Kito told the Juneau Empire he will not be seeking re-election this fall, a decision based partly on the revocation of per diem payments for Juneau legislators.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: