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Assemblywoman says GOP keeps pledge

CARSON CITY — Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert said Wednesday that all 14 Republicans in the Assembly will return 4.6 percent of their legislative pay in a show of solidarity with state workers whose pay was cut by that amount during the 2009 legislative session.

"I just sent a check for $40.38," Gansert said. "A promise made, a promise kept."

The pledge, which is not being matched by the state Senate or Democrats in the Assembly, is likely to save the state no more than $10,000.

The 4.6 percent pay cut was enacted through mandatory furloughs, one each month, that state workers were forced to take.

Assembly Republicans were criticized this week for apparently breaking their promise last spring to match cuts given state workers.

Only Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, kept the pledge to return money to the state that he earned during the 2009 session, according to the report.

But Gansert, R-Reno, said that state employee pay was not cut until July 1, a month after the legislative session was over.

From that date through the end of the two-year budget period that ends on June 30, 2011, her party members will return 4.6 percent of their pay, she said.

Legislators earn $146.29 a day in pay. But because the Legislature will not go into its next regular 120-day session until Feb. 7, 2011, what they earn now is limited to the occasional interim committee hearings they attend.

Gansert said she has earned a little more than $800 since July 1.

But a check of stories in the Review-Journal and other newspapers last spring showed Assembly Republicans pledged to cut their pay by 6 percent, the amount by which Gov. Jim Gibbons originally wanted to cut state salaries. The stories indicate the cuts would start with the 2009 session, not on July 1.

Legislative Democrats and Senate Republicans did not make similar pledges. The 14 Republicans in the Senate each earned $8,777 during the 2009 session.

A 6 percent cut from the Republican Assembly members’ salaries for one session would have netted the state a combined $7,373. Their leaders reduced the percentage to the 4.6 percent that later was enacted.

Gansert said the Republicans will write a check to the state every six months to return 4.6 percent of what they earned.

People might think legislators receive a lot of money, but their pay is about $30,000 every two years. They receive $146.29 a day for the first 60 days of each legislative session and the same amount for each day they work on interim committees.

They also are given $167 a day in living expenses during the regular legislative session.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said nothing prevents any legislators, Republican or Democrat, from voluntarily donating a part of their pay to any good state cause.

But he pointed out that legislators are not paid a salary for the final 60 days of the regular sessions, so they are in effect donating their time.

"We are working for nothing," he added. "It is hard to give some of nothing."

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

 

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