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Special Session Price Tag

March 15th, 2012 by flanews

Taxpayers will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for lawmakers to redraw the senate district map. The map was declared unconstitutional last Friday, so lawmakers have to meet in special session to fix it. As Whitney Ray tells us, if lawmakers would have acted faster, they could have saved taxpayers thousands of dollars.

In an 11 minute special session Wednesday, Lawmakers prayed, pledged and spent your money, including thousands of dollars on flights, meals and hotel rooms. Each member is given 110 dollars a day for lodging and 80 dollars for food and other expenses. There’s also extra cash for staff.

“This could have been dealt with immediately following our regular session,” said State Senator Mike Fasano.

Fasano, stayed home. He says money could have been saved if leadership held the special session Friday night.

“We could have immediately opened the special session taking just five or ten minutes,” said Fasano.

Governor Rick Scott ended up calling the special session, starting five days after the Florida Supreme Court declared the Senate district map unconstitutional.

This could be one reason for the delay and extra cost. It’s the Florida Supreme Court’s 234 page opinion. Senate leadership may have wanted to digest it all before deciding how to move forward.

It’s important to note lawmakers had to come back at some point, but obviously there were options on when to return. The house won’t call members back again until it’s time for a chamber vote on the map. The senate will only have members on the redistricting committee in Tallahassee for multiple days.

We won’t have a final cost on the special session for months, but a one day special session held in 2010 cost taxpayers 67-thousand dollars. This session will likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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