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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lawmakers' travel tab takes a GOP hit

When House and Senate Republicans called for budget cuts to balance the state's impending shortfall, Democrats asked for specifics. Tom Fahey reports in the Union Leader that one Republican suggestion is the House travel budget.
They had called on Democrats in June to trim spending on memberships in national organizations, such as the Council on State Government and the American Legislative Exchange Council. They argue there are still savings to be had.

"It's higher than it needs to be and it's higher than it should be. We're cutting state employees, we're cutting spending in departments, we should be cutting here, too," said Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, a former House speaker.

One area Republican lawmakers point to as excessive is the budget for out-of-state travel, which went up 25 percent for House members, by $25,000 a year to $125,000 annually.

The Senate actually cut its budget for out-of-state travel by more than half, from $24,000 to $11,500 a year.

The Josiah Bartlett Center has requested and received detailed records of legislative travel for the past ten years. We are still organizing that data, and have not yet shared our analysis with anyone. In light of this issue coming to the fore, and the limits on Executive Branch travel imposed by Governor Lynch's Executive Order 2008-01, we will try to get that information out as quickly as possible.

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