So, with lawmakers ignoring a law they passed cutting off their $302-a-day per diem if they failed to pass a budget in 121 days, it will be revealing to see who applies for the pay.
The optics of some legislators pushing to cut the Permanent Fund’s statutorily calculated dividend of about $3,000 for each Alaskan while not passing a budget in the regular session and then ignoring the law to take per diem payments for the ensuing special session apparently is lost on our betters.
It took the Legislature’s 14-member Legislative Council, the Juneau Empire reports, only four hours and nine minutes after the Legislature adjourned its special session to vote 12-2 to approve the payments.
The law cutting off the per diem, House Bill 44, was passed only last year after Outside interests started an Alaska Governmental Accountability Act initiative petition. The proposed law supposedly was aimed at things such as curbing lawmakers’ conflicts of interests and contacts with lobbyists. For good measure, and we suspect to make it more salable to Alaskans, it would have made per diem contingent on lawmakers passing a fully funded budget during the 121-day regular session.
Legislators passed mirroring legislation to head off the initiative, even including the ban on per diem payments.
If all 57 lawmakers who do not live in Juneau were to claim the $302 daily per diem for the special session it took to pass a budget, the tab would be more than $450,000.
Read the rest of this editorial at Anchorage Daily Planet: