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Legislative Council Adopts Expense Account Change

Returns office expense policy to transparent practice of receipt submittal

Thursday, November 21, 2013, Anchorage, Alaska – Representative Mike Hawker, Chairman of Legislative Council, announced that a new policy adopted today brings transparency and accountability to the way state legislative office expense accounts are managed. Under the new policy, office expense accounts can be used only for documented office expenditures, and not as supplemental legislative salary.

“The intent of the statute authorizing office expense allowances was not to provide additional compensation to legislators,” Hawker said. “I believe the Council took the proper action today restoring full accountability for these public funds.”

Legislators receive an annual allowance for office expenses; senators receive $20,000 per year and representatives receive $16,000. The existing policy, established by the previous Legislative Council, paid the allowance amount to legislators as additional salary, with no requirement to track or publicly report how the funds were spent. Historically it was considered acceptable to take all or a portion of the office account as income, in light of low legislative salaries and the myriad costs associated with legislators’ official duties. Legislative salaries increased recently to $50,000per year.

Under the new policy approved today, all legislators must submit receipts for allowable office expenditures to the Legislative Affairs Agency for direct payment or reimbursement.  The maximum amount available to legislators remains unchanged. Any unspent office funds lapse at the end of each calendar year.

The office expense allowance statute states:

Sec. 24.10.110. Additional allowances.

In addition [to their statutory compensation] , each member of the legislature is entitled to an annual allowance … for postage, stationery, stenographic services, and other expenses.

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