Under the bill Ducey allowed to become law without his signature Monday, rural lawmakers will get the federal winter per diem rate for Phoenix during session, which is $207 a day — $151 a day for lodging and $56 for meals.
Proponents of the legislation called it long overdue, noting that there had not been a change in the rate lawmakers receive for expenses since 1984.
When the Senate debated the increase in May, Republican Sen. David Gowan of Sierra Vista noted he has to maintain a residence in Phoenix during the monthslong legislative session.
“The issue here is about being able to do the travel, being able to pay for the living expenses that incurs while we’re here,” said Gowan, who sponsored the measure.
Democrats also backed the change, with Rep. Lisa Otondo of Yuma saying that forcing lawmakers to absorb the cost of serving means only the well-off can afford to seek election to the Legislature.
“This is a per diem increase so that candidates from either party can have access and run for this office and not lose money,” she said.
The bill initially also gave lawmakers in Maricopa County an increase in daily expense pay, but it was amended Wednesday to remain at $35 a day.
The bill drew wide bipartisan support, but did not get formal votes until the final days of the legislative session that ended on June 30. Several critics who voted against the raise said the Legislature shouldn’t be rushing through such a change on the last day of the session.