Lawmakers vote to raise their daily expense allowance |

Lawmakers vote to raise their daily expense allowance

DENVER – Lawmakers voted Thursday to raise their daily expense allowance after the sponsor of an amendment limiting their perks said lawmakers deserved to be paid for doing their jobs.Legislators said they haven’t had a raise in the expense allowance, called the per diem, since 1989, despite increased costs.Lawmakers who live away from home during the legislative session could collect another $6,120 a year in expenses under the bill (Senate Bill 139), increasing their per diem from $99 a day to about $150 a day under a federal index.The Senate approved the bill on a 30-4 vote and sent it to Gov. Bill Ritter.Lawmakers said they had considered seeking an increase before public policy groups won voter approval for Amendment 41 banning lobbyists from buying meals or any gifts worth more than $50 for state lawmakers.The constitutional amendment also bans gifts to any state employee or their families worth more than $50. Employees of cities or counties with their own ethics guidelines are exempt.Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, which proposed Amendment 41, said increasing funds for lawmakers should be a priority.She said there are necessary and reasonable costs associated with public office, and those costs should be borne by the state.

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