Jan. 24, 2006 – Perhaps inspired by her new allegiances, less than 10 days after taking up the reins of the new 26th Legislature majority on Jan. 12, Senate President Lorraine Berry has released the 2005 budget allotments for senators.
The Source has been trying to get this information for more than a year. The figures were released by her office along with the 2006 budget allotments last Friday.
One of the hallmarks of Berry's 23 years in the Senate is her call for transparency in government. In the past she has not hesitated to issue subpoenas to government officials who don't turn up with the information she requests.
In December 2005, precedent-setting legislation sponsored by Sen. Louis Hill was passed into law that did away with the time-honored tradition of majority senators receiving the lion's share of the allotments.
Each senator now receives 2 percent of the Senate's annual $16.9M budget, or $338,000, which includes the senator's salary, staff salaries and office expenses.
Berry wrote Hill earlier this month that the new law would create "a shortfall in excess of $700,000 for other operations of this first branch of government." She said the new law would force her to "take drastic and severe actions to keep this institution solvent." However, she did not provide a breakdown substantiating the shortfall.
At that time, Hill said, "Sen. Berry has never released the Legislature budget breakdowns, so we are unable to make any determination on whether this is true. The first thing she has to do is to release the FY 2005 and FY 2006 budgets with the breakdowns so we can see what it is she is saying."
Hill and Sen. Craig Barshinger have been unrelenting in pushing Berry for transparency in the Senate figures, which are a matter of public record. Barshinger unsuccessfully tried to get legislation passed in the last 2005 full session requiring the Senate budgetary figures to be made public.
Berry's office said she is off-island for the week, but Hill said Monday that the $700,000 "shortfall" has been resolved.
"A presentation was given to the new senators demonstrating the way the shortfall would be handled," Hill said. "The $338,000 allotments will still be maintained."
However, Hill said there is one change. In the past the Central Staff budget paid for the fringe benefits for all employees, including those on senatorial staff. It was decided that the senators would pay 15 percent, or half, of the fringe benefits for their staffs, rather than Central Staff paying the entire 30 percent.
"In this way the matter was resolved," Hill said.
The fringe benefits include: FICA 7.65 percent; retirement 14.50 percent; and health 7.86 percent, according to documents provided by Berry's office.
The 2005 total senatorial allotments, including committee allotments:
Sen. Craig Barshinger $301,000
Sen. Lorraine Berry $800,000
Sen. Roosevelt David $240,000
Sen. Liston Davis $416,000
Sen. Adlah Donastorg $416,000
Sen. Pedro Encarnacion $306,000
Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville $240,000
Sen. Louis Hill $240,000
Sen. Neville James $306,000
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste $446,000
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone $426,000
Sen. Terrence Nelson $416,000
Sen. Usie Richards $416,000
Sen. Ronald Russell $240,000
Sen. Celestino White $446,000
For 2006, the senators' budgets are all $338,000, with some exceptions. Committee chairs receive another $65,910; Senate President Berry receives $507,000 plus another $250,000 as Committee of the Whole chair; and Barshinger, as senator-at-large, receives $422,500 to staff his three offices, and $65,910 as Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee chair.
A listing of all current Senate committees can be found in the Data section.
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