Budget battle's cost on taxpayers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The prolonged State Budget process comes with a cost... A cost that continues to mount as lawmakers can't come to an agreement. NBC12 put all the numbers together and found out just how much you're paying for your lawmakers to bicker.

It's not free to run the State Capitol, and every time the General Assembly convenes, new expenses come along with it. Each member receives a per diem an mileage expense for their time in Richmond and in 2012, those costs have mounted.

Starting March 21, the legislative meter started running. The House and Senate both came back to Richmond. The cost in mileage and per diem fees for the Senate came to total just over $2,500.

The big chunk came between April 26 and April 27. The Senate spent a shade over $13,000 in per diems and just under $5,000 in mileage: a total of $18,000.

On the House side, with more than double the members, that same time frame accounted for $22,000 in session expenses and almost $12,000 in mileage: a total of $34,000.

But the budget did not pass. That meant another round of negotiations and everyone back to Richmond. They reconvened on April 17. That meant another $7,000 in expenses for the Senate and $16,000 for the House.

The conference committees were forced to meet after the original session was complete. That meant added costs not normally budgeted for.

For the Senate, the conference price tag was a little more than $14,000. For the House, the price tag was $11,000.

In all, the Senate charged an additional $45,000 to tax payers and the House just over $60,000. The grand total: $107,100.35.

Now, there is one more expense that came into play that is not normally spent. State Police spent just over $1,800 to usher a senator to his ailing wife's bedside after he rushed back to cast a vote to help pass the budget. Had they not got him back to Richmond, this process could have gone on even longer.

The final price is not calculated. Taxpayers will still have at least one more day of session costs to pay for as the General Assembly comes back Monday to hopefully wrap up the budget battle.

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