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Mississippi lawmakers propose more pay for themselves

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The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would give lawmakers a pay bump of $6,000 for the first year of a four-year term, and $4,500 a year for the other three years of the term.

Mississippi’s part-time legislators are paid a base of $23,500 a year — although most make between $40,000 and $50,000 a year in salary, per diem, reimbursements and other payments. Some lawmakers’ total compensation is around $70,000 a year.

The $23,500 includes a base salary of $10,000 a year, plus $1,500 a month for office expenses during months when the legislature is not in session — despite the fact that most lawmakers have other jobs and don’t have separate legislative offices in their district. Many rely on Capitol staffers to help with administrative work year-round.

Lawmakers do not receive the $1,500 a month office payment when the Legislature is in session. Typically, the first year of a term the Legislature meets four months, then three months each of the following three years.

Senate Bill 2794 would pay lawmakers the $1,500 in months when the Legislature is in session.

Lawmakers also receive about $150 per diem — living expenses — for each day they spend in Jackson (including those who live in or near it), and mileage reimbursement set at the federal government rate, currently about 58 cents a mile. All members are allowed at least four days a month at the Capitol, with chairmen allowed six days and vice chairmen five days. Extra days must be approved.

The Senate bill, which now heads to the House for consideration, was passed on a “morning roll call vote,” with only a few senators saying they wanted to be counted as a no vote.

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