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With the exception of special sessions called by order of the governor, the Kentucky General Assembly meets for a 30-day session in odd-numbered years, and in even-numbered years, the session can last no more than 60 days. Only certain representatives receive compensation year-round, the remainder are paid on a per diem basis, for days actually worked. However, with the various laws the legislature has enacted on its own to increase their salaries, it results in multiple types of compensation for a few days of work.
The Kentucky Constitution provides for General Assembly members to be compensated for days actually worked. Over the years, the Assembly has passed new laws and amended old ones, adding compensation for travel, expense accounts, staff allowances and reimbursements for such things as stationery, until actual annual salary totals become a puzzle to solve. For example, Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 6.190, effective Jan. 1, 1984, states that members of the General Assembly would receive on top of per diem salary, compensation for travel expenses and additional salary for chairing a committee meeting.
Kentucky Revised Statutes 6.211, passed by the General Assembly, authorizes expense accounts for members, to equal 110 percent of the "expense allowance paid federal employees traveling in Frankfort." Members are authorized to receive this expense allowance per calendar day that the legislative body is in session. In KRS 6.213, the General Assembly voted its members an additional allowance, to provide for secretarial and clerk services. In July 1994, the legislature voted to give its members (themselves) an additional $50 allowance for stationery at the start of each session. In other words, Kentucky taxpayers buy their paper.
Offices and Insurance
KRS 6.225 authorizes the payment to the president of the Senate and speaker of the House a per diem salary year-round to maintain offices in Frankfort in the State Capitol building, if they so choose. The per diem rate for maintaining an office is paid when the General Assembly is not in session and equals the amount they would earn if in session. As an added benefit, KRS 6.237 provides members of the General Assembly with life and hospitalization insurance, regardless of the number of days worked.
To sort it all out, February 2011 data from The Courier-Journal shows Rep. Greg Stumbo of Kentucky's 95th District as the highest-paid legislature in the State House of Representatives. Stumbo, who became speaker of the House in January 2009, receives $45,200 in compensation. This is comparable to his counterpart, Kentucky State Senate President David L. Williams, who receives $42,160. Next to Stumbo's, the highest salary received by a house member is $39,516, which goes to Rep. Dennis Horlander of District 40. Third on the list in order of highest salaries for state representatives is District 29 Rep. Robert R. Damron, who received $33,009. According to The Courier-Journal data, 45 of Kentucky's 100 state representatives received salaries exceeding $25,000 annually, and only two received less than $20,000.
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- The Courier-Journal: Government Salaries
- Kentucky Legislature: KRS 6.190 Compensation -- Travel Expenses
- Kentucky Legislature: KRS 6.211 Additional Allowances for Members of General Assembly
- Kentucky Legislature: KRS 6.213 Interim Expense Allowances for Members
- Kentucky Legislature: KRS 6.220 Allowance in Lieu of Stationery
- Kentucky Legislature: KRS 6.225 Offices for President of Senate and Speaker of House of Representative
Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.