Feb. 28, 2006 – Senate President Lorraine Berry's office released Sunday a complete breakdown of the staff of the 26th Legislature, listing names, positions and salaries of employees.
This is the first time in recent memory the Senate has released this information. It was not made available during the 24th nor the 25th Legislatures, nor were the individual budgets for those Legislatures ever released, despite repeated requests by media representatives.
On Jan. 25, Berry released the 2005 budget allotments for senators, information the Source had been trying to get for more than a year. Along with the 2005 budgets, Berry released the 2006 allotments. However, the individual names were not released at that time.
Sens. Craig Barshinger and Louis Hill, members of the Senate's new majority, have been persistent in pushing Berry for transparency in the figures, which are a matter of public record.
The Legislature's fiscal year 2006 budget is $16.9 million. Figures for 2006 released by Berry's office in January show $5.3 million allocated for senators' salaries, staff salaries, fringe benefits and operating expenses. Adding committee allotments, the figure is $6.2 million, leaving a balance of $10.7 million.
Total central staff salaries are $6.4 million. Fringe benefits are $2.9 million, leaving a $1.4 balance, which after deducting $1.5 in operating expenses, leaves an estimated shortfall of $110,624. James Francis, Berry's chief of staff, was not available Tuesday to comment on the shortfall.
Berry announced on Jan. 25 that the senators' budgets were all $338,000, with some exceptions. Committee chairs receive another $65,910; Senate President Berry receives $507,000 plus another $250,000 as Committee of the Whole chair; and Barshinger, as senator-at-large, receives $422,500 to staff his three offices, and $65,910 as Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee chair.
Commenting Monday on the 26th Legislature staff figures, Francis said, "We're looking at the bottom line. There may have been some minor adjustments, for instance, for short-time employment."
Here is the salary breakdown (PDF format).
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