Texas lawmakers get a $4,300 raise before taking a single vote in 86th session
AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers will each receive an extra $4,340 to cover their daily expenses during the 140-day legislative session, which started Jan. 8.
The change comes after the Texas Ethics Commission voted in December to boost lawmakers’ per diem by $31, to $221 a day. It amounts to a 16-percent bump in the amount of their per diem, which was last increased in 2015.
State lawmakers will now receive roughly $31,000 in per diem over the 140-day session. The figure could grow, however, should a special session be called.
Sen. Bryan Hughes, a Mineola Republican who chairs Senate Committee on Administration, said the change reflects the 2019 IRS rate for meals and lodging in Austin. The per diem, in certain circumstances, could now be taxable under new federal tax law, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Texas lawmakers earn a $600 monthly salary, one of the lowest in the country. But their per diem is among the highest, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
No one from the Legislature requested the Ethics Commission increase the per diem, said chairman Steven Wolens.
The reimbursement is supposed to cover lawmakers’ daily expenses, though several also dip into their campaign coffers to pay rent and other living costs in Austin, campaign finance records show.