Legislators' per diem costing more

(October 6, 2003) - (Little Rock-AP) -- The state has paid legislators 44 percent more in per diem during the first three months of this fiscal year than the same period a year ago. That's what an analysis of state records by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette shows. Per diems are meant to pay for lodging and food, but legislators get to keep what they don't spend. To collect the 110 dollars per diem for attending a committee meeting, legislators don't even have to be on the committee. Legislators who live within 50 miles of the state Capitol get an extra 68-hundred dollars a year instead of per diem and mileage. In addition to their annual 13-thousand-dollar-plus salary, legislators also have a 96-hundred-dollar annual expense allowance, and those in leadership roles get extra money.