Washington Senate Panel Approves $30 Per Diem Increase

By Austin Jenkins

Washington state Senators are giving themselves a pay raise. They will get $120 a day in per diem when they are in session – up from the current $90 a day. The Senate Facilities and Operations committee approved the increase Tuesday in a split vote.

Washington citizen legislators are paid an annual salary of 42-thousand dollars. When the legislature is in session, lawmakers are eligible for a daily allowance to cover expenses. Since 2005, this per diem has been set at $90 a day in the Washington Senate. Earlier this year the House approved a $30 increase. Now the Senate will follow. At a hastily called meeting in the Capitol, Democrat Karen Fraser made the case for the per diem hike.

Karen Fraser: “Some have serious financial problems being able to be here during the session, so therefore I think it’s reasonable that we equal the House.”

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom opposed the increase in part, he said, because teachers and state employees haven’t received a cost of living increase in several years. This per diem raise is expected to cost Washington taxpayers an additional $155-thousand next year.

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