JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri lawmakers are on a break after an expensive eight-week special session to reduce violent crime across the state.
Gov. Mike Parson made the call back in July for senators and representatives to return to the Capitol for his special session on crime. Legislators were in session for more than 50 days and during that time they convened for veto session, all of this coming out of the taxpayers’ pocket.
Representatives applauded last Wednesday as the gravel adjourned the governor’s special session. The long session cost taxpayers $214,652.73.
“It’s the least of my worry what it costs to get the legislators in here,” Parson said during his weekly COVID briefing Wednesday. “It’s about trying to protect the people of this state right now.”
This special session cost more than two previous special sessions combined. Chief Clerk for the House of Representatives Dana Rademan Miller and Senate Administrator Patrick Baker provided numbers to our Missouri Chief Capitol Bureau Reporter Emily Manley. The special session in 2018 cost around $28,000 and the 2019 special session was around $57,000.
“Sometimes we can come in, depending on the issue, we can get out in five days, but in this case, there were several issues and it required more time,” Rademan Miller said.
House Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) spoke out about the high costs.
“And most shockingly, after more than $200,000 spent in a well-over a month-long special session right before the election, he still didn’t get his proposals across the finish line,” Quade said.
Parson responded to Quade’s statement by saying the special session was needed.
“I don’t know what the costs of special session is but maybe she can explain what the cost of 191 people that’s died in St. Louis or the 130-some-odd that’s died in Kansas City,” Parson said. “Maybe she can put a value on that.”
Rademan Miller said the cost for the session comes out of the general revenue fund, which is paid for by taxpayers.
“There are some costs associated with (the special session) and we are required to cover those costs,” Rademan Miller said.
State senators and representatives are paid $120 a day and a mileage allowance of 37 cents per mile from their home address to the Capitol and back.
“They only get paid when there’s a session day and when there is actually a journal produced and legislative business is conducted,” Rademan Miller said.
Lawmakers spent only one day in veto session this year. The House spent $34,628.83 and the Senate spent $3,860.10, a total of $38,488.93, during that one day.
Since July 27, when legislators opened the governor’s special session, to Sept. 16, the state spent more than $253,000 in less than two months to pay lawmakers and staff.
Parson has mentioned lawmakers returning for another special session in October to discuss the budget and the state’s CARES Act Funding, but there is no word on when that will start or how long it could last.
Special session costs for 2020:
- House: $172,238.06
- Senate: $42,414.67
- Grand total: $214,652.73
Cost for veto session 2020:
- House $34,628.83
- Senate $3,860.10
- Grand total: $38,488.93
Cost per year for special session
- 2018: around $28,000
- 2019: around $57,000
- 2020: $214,652.73