2 Special Sessions: The cost to taxpayers
BATON ROUGE - In addition to the usual legislative session, lawmakers spent a lot of extra time at the Capitol this year thanks to two separate Special Sessions. The move cost taxpayers millions.
The first Special Session began on February 14th. It ended 25 days later, but over that span the Senate spent roughly $650,000 a day, while House members accounted for $26,000 a day, or about $660,000 overall. That money includes a $150 per diem, per member, as well as travel, staff and office expenses.
Over that 3 week span, lawmakers raised cigarette taxes by 22 cents a pack. Income taxes were not raised, but sales taxes were by one cent giving Louisiana the highest in the nation. That's expected to generate around $1.5 billion.
The second Special Session began June 6th, with the regular session sandwiched in between. By the time the session ended 18 days later, the Senate and House combined to spend nearly $920,000 on meals, travel and staff expenses.
19 weeks of extra work brought you a cost of about $2.2 million in legislator expenses. That may seem like a lot, but during that time, legislators plugged a $2.5 billion budget hole.