Feb 18, 2010 9:12 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Lawmakers may refuse per diem raise to help budget

Colorado lawmakers are looking at their own expenses as they try to balance the budget.

Lawmakers from outside the metro area get paid $150 a day to cover housing and meals while they're in Denver for the four-month session. The amount is set to rise to $191 a day in July, and legislative leaders from both parties want to forgo that raise until 2012.

That would save the state $238,005, a drop in the bucket toward closing the $1.5 billion budget deficit. The proposal passed its first committee vote Wednesday.

Republican Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs was the only member to vote against it. He's a fiscal conservative and would like to see more deep cuts in the state budget. But with lawmakers earning $30,000 a year, he thinks some members are barely making it, and he's worried others will be discouraged from running from office.

The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for another vote.


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