Press Release from Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, March 18, 2010:
Senators unanimously approve of expense rate freeze
NASHVILLE – A proposal by Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) to freeze legislators’ daily expense rate for the next four years unanimously passed a Senate committee Wednesday.
“I am glad to see senators from both sides of the aisle supporting fiscal responsibility during this continued recession,” Finney said. “During a time when families are determining their budget priorities, a legislator pay raise shouldn’t be one of ours.”
The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 8-0-0 for Senate Bill 3650, which would freeze the current per diem rate until 2014, the earliest that Tennessee’s economy is expected to return to pre-recession levels.
Lawmaker per diems are increased automatically when the federal government’s per diem increases, meaning state legislators don’t have to vote on the matter. Lawmakers can, however, put a freeze on the per diem.
The move could save the state nearly $1 million over the next four years, according to a legislative fiscal analysis. Finney wants those funds to pay for unemployment benefits for Tennesseans who leave their jobs to accompany their spouses on a military transfer.
“We are one step closer to helping our military families by using taxpayer dollars wisely in a tough economy,” Finney said. “I am optimistic that this per diem freeze will gain momentum and that this will become law.”
The bill will now go to the Senate Finance Committee.