Special Session Equals Special Cost

(Richmond-AP) -- The special session to try to break the state budget deadlock has cost taxpayers $53 thousand so far in expenses to be paid to nearly 60 members of the House of Delegates.

Senators voted not to accept money for expenses. They said taxpayers should not be billed for the General Assembly's failure to adopt a budget during the regular 60-day session.

The House of Delegates voted to pay its members expenditures of $115 per day for lodging and food during the special session. House Clerk Bruce Jamerson says 38 members chose not to accept the money, and five chose to send the money to charity.

Delegate Kristen Amundson of Fairfax is donating her expense money to two Fairfax charities. She says she jokingly tells people this is at least some money from Richmond making it back to northern Virginia.

The delegates are also entitled to 32-and-a-half cents a mile for travel to and from home each week if they live more than 50 miles from the Capitol. Nineteen delegates have chosen not to accept money for mileage.

The Senate and the House will meet Monday for pro-forma sessions, then return Tuesday in full session to consider a tax bill designed to break the deadlock.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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