On Monday, I wrote about the excessive meetings of the Arkansas House’s State Agencies & Governmental Affairs committee. Undoubtedly, some of you assumed I was making a mountain out of a molehill, so I decided to dig deeper.
According to the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research, the House State Agencies committee has cost taxpayers $32,702.06 so far this year–and there are still several meetings to go. Compare this total for roughly 8.5 months of this year to the entirety of last year’s expenses: $14,697.65. The committee has already more than doubled their total expenses from all of last calendar year.
In comparison, the Senate’s version of the State Agencies committee has only cost taxpayers $7,389.08, less than 25% of the cost as the House committee. Presumably, if there were legitimate needs for large-scale legislative scrutiny of state government, and both committees really needed to meet frequently, these totals would be much closer. (CORRECTION: As a commenter pointed out yesterday, the comparison between House and Senate committee spending is not meaningful. The relatively small number of senators, as compared to representatives, leads to accounting which places the lion’s share of costs on the House, not the Senate. However, the larger point of this post, which is that there is no apparent reason for 2012’s costs to be far more than twice 2011’s, still stands.)
Notably, these costs do not account for additional staff travel costs that are incurred every time the committee meets outside of Little Rock–like this weekend, when they will meet twice in Fayetteville.
So perhaps these figures add some weight to the argument that Mr. Hall’s committee is meeting much more frequently than in the past and it is costing taxpayers dearly–but of course, this still has nothing to do with his $185,000 in campaign debt.