Number Crunching on Legislator Per Diem

Chas Sisk has crunched legislative per diem numbers in various ways, starting with the observation that about $300,000 less of the automatic expense payments were made during the first six months of 2011 than in the same period last year’s session, a total of about $2.2 million last year versus $2.5 million this year.
The difference, of course, is that legislators had about three weeks less of daily meeting this year’s regular session than last and the per diem rate was down from $185 per day to $176 per day.
The 32 state senators who served the entire 2011 term collected an average of $13,405 in daily payments, plus $2,856 in expenses, an analysis by The Tennessean found. The 98 state representatives who served the whole term collected an average of $14,135 in per diems, plus $3,108 in expenses. (The combined overall average: about $17,000.)
Republicans in the state House of Representatives received about $500 more in per diems and expense reimbursements than their Democratic counterparts. Senate Republicans collected nearly $900 more than Democrats.
Freshmen members of the House of Representatives collected an average of $16,770 in per diems and expense reimbursements, about $600 less than senior members of that chamber.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, led all state lawmakers in per diem payments, collecting $19,536, indicating he spent 111 days on legislative business. State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, collected the least, $10,384, indicating he spent 59 days on legislative business.
Sens. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, and Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, tied for the largest per diems in the Senate, $16,368. Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle collected $11,264 in per diems, the least among members of that chamber.

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