Tag Archives: mileage

Legislators Get a Pay Raise, Plus a Penny More Per Traveled Mile

State legislators will be paid $1,194 more per year in salary during the 108thGeneral Assembly than they were paid last session, an increase of about 6.28 percent that will be the first boost in lawmaker’s base pay since 2008.
The increase went into effect on election day, Nov. 6, in accord with a state law enacted in 2005, according to Connie Ridley, director of the Office of Legislative Administration. The law calls for automatic increases every two years based on the increases in average state employee compensation during the proceeding two-year period.
The first year the law took effect, 2006, saw legislator pay increase from $16,500 – where it had stood since 1988 – to $18,123. In 2008, it rose to $19,009. In 2010, after two years in which state employees got no salary increase, it was not changed, officials said.
The new base salary for a lawmaker will be $20,203, where it will remain for the duration of the 108thGeneral Assembly, which will end in November, 2014.
Under the same 2005 law, the speakers of the House and Senate get three times the salary of an average legislator. Thus, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey will now be paid $60,609 per year, up from $57,027.
In addition to their base salary, legislators also get $1,000 per month as a “home office allowance,” a flat rate that is not subject to an automatic increase. They further receive a daily “per diem” expense allowance for each day they engage in legislative work, which will remain unchanged in the coming year at $173 per day. The “per diem” allowance follows a federal government standard for calculating the cost of a motel and meals in Nashville and the federal figure was unchanged this year.
Legislators are also paid mileage for driving from their home to Nashville for legislative meetings. The mileage rate, also tied to a federal formula, will increase a penny per mile for the upcoming session, from 46 cents to 47 cents, for the 108th General Assembly, officials said.
Nationwide, state legislator salaries vary dramatically, according to the National Conference of State Legislators website – from zero in New Mexico to $95,291 per year in California.
Tennessee seems ahead of most neighboring states in lawmaker base pay. Georgia, for example, pays its legislators $17,342 per year and Mississippi $10,000. Kentucky gives its lawmakers $188.22 per day and Alabama just $10 a day, the website indicates.

State Leasing Cars Rather Than Buying Them or Paying Employee Mileage

Tennessee has launched a $65 million pilot program meant to cut driving costs for state workers by leasing up to 500 cars from an Orlando, Fla., vehicle-leasing firm, reports ‘Chas Sisk.
The state has signed a three-year contract with Mears Motor Leasing, a division of Bancorp Inc., to lease 500 Ford Fusion sedans for use by child welfare agents, inspectors and other state employees. Officials estimate the deal will cost the state about 33 cents a mile, including leasing costs, maintenance and gasoline.
Tennessee reimburses state workers 47 cents for each mile they drive while using their personal cars for business, and if the program succeeds, the state could shift more workers to leased vehicles.
“We’re going to try this and see how it works,” said Tom Chester, deputy commissioner for the Department of General Services, which agreed to the deal.
Mears, which specializes in leasing cars to state governments, beat three other companies for the low-bid contract, which runs through the summer of 2014. So far, 420 cars have been delivered to the state.

Legislator Per Diem, Mileage Freeze Flies in Senate Panel, Flops in House

A bill that would freeze state legislators’ expense allowances and mileage reimbursement rates has passed a Senate committee while being left dead in a House subcommittee.
Legislators receive $176 per day as a “per diem” expense allowance, paid automatically for each day they are engaged in legislative functions, and receive 46 cents per mile reimbursement for use of their personal vehicles while commuting to Nashville or otherwise engaged in legislative duties.
Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, proposes in SB1372 to prohibit future increases in the rates, which are typically adjusted Oct. 1 to track a federal formula. Usually, the rates go up — though last year, for the first time, the per diem rate actually declined from $185 to $176.
Finney’s bill, as amended, would reduce the rates if they decline in the future, but block any increases. That sparked some debate among members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
“Can you amend it to lower gasoline prices?” quipped Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, observed that legislators would “be stuck” at low mileage rates even if gas prices rise to $10 per gallon. He suggested that Finney amend the bill to put a freeze on city and county government officials, too.
Finney said he would “encourage” local government officials to freeze their rates but not mandate them, leaving legislators to “set an example” and save taxpayer money.
“At least we are receiving some type of reimbursement,” which is more than most average citizens commuting to and from their jobs, Finney said.
The bill passed the Senate committee 8-0 with Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, abstaining.
Over in the House, meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley simply abandoned attempts to pass the measure this year, taking it “off notice” at the last meeting this year of the House State and Local Government Subcommittee.