A multi-week special legislative session to consider tax refunds and new abortion restrictions is expected to cost Indiana taxpayers at least $280,000 in additional compensation to the state’s 150 lawmakers.
The session is scheduled to begin in earnest on July 25 and under state rules must end by Aug. 14. Assuming lawmakers take two weeks to complete their work, they would receive a total of roughly $280,000 in additional pay and expenses.
If they take the full three weeks allowed, the costs would rise to about $420,000.
Lawmakers receive about $183 in “per diem” costs for each day the Legislature is in session, plus weekends. They receive this daily stipend, intended to cover meals and lodging, regardless of whether they use the money for those purposes. They also receive 57 cents for each mile driven, which is tied to the federal rate for mileage reimbursement.
While the amount varies slightly for each legislator, the total per diem cost for 150 legislators is $17,640 a day, or about $117 per lawmaker, according to Molly Fishell, communications director for Indiana Senate Republicans, who cited figures obtained from the Indiana Legislative Services Agency.
Lawmakers are also given a weekly stipend to cover mileage expenses. For all 150 legislators, that number is $17,821, or about $118 a week for each lawmaker.
If you add those two costs together, that comes out to roughly $20,000 per day. That means if the special session lasts for two weeks, it would cost taxpayers roughly $280,000.
Fishell noted that the regular session earlier this year ended five days early, saving those per diem costs.
Per diem compensation and extra pay for leadership roles add to lawmakers’ annual base pay of $28,102.50. When you add it all up, the average rank-and-file lawmaker earns about $65,000 per year, according to a 2021 analysis by The Indianapolis Star.
The financial upside for taxpayers is that the special session could also bring tax relief. Gov. Eric Holcomb originally called the special session for July 6 to consider $1 billion in refunds to Indiana taxpayers from the state’s operating surplus.
But Republican leaders delayed legislative work until July 25 so the GOP-dominated Legislature can prepare to also consider abortion restrictions or an outright ban–an option created when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24.
Protests by abortion-rights supporters have already become a common occurrence in downtown Indianapolis and are expected to intensify when the Legislature convenes.