Are Republican state lawmakers are gouging the taxpayers?
The General Assembly staff serving the Republicans is disproportionately high, a Democratic legislator from Bristol charges.
Freshman state Rep. Chris Wright, who serves the 77th District, said GOP staff costs per legislator are significantly higher than they are for Democrats.
Wright said the Republican caucus in the state House spends about $70,000 for each of the lawmakers it serves.
The Democratic caucus costs about $43,000 per lawmaker, Wright said.
In the state Senate, the staff costs per Democrat total a little more than $100,000, he said, while Republican senators' staff cost come to about $140,000 per GOP senator.
"People have a right to know how much they're spending on their legislators," Wright said.
Most lawmakers have an aide who works for several other legislators as well, along with a portion of a press aide's time. More senior politicians have larger staffs.
The staffs get pretty big.
Wright said the House Republicans have more staff members than lawmakers. That's also true for state senators on both sides of the aisle, he said.
Only the House Democrats outnumber their staff, Wright said.
Wright said he finds it interesting that the GOP in the legislature is so keen to cut programs for the poor, the elderly and others who need help but "they won't want to cut their own staff."
Wright said the Republicans can prove so obstructive that one Democratic legislator couldn't even have an office until a month into the term because a GOP lawyer wouldn't move his desk to make room.
Instead of making the move, he said, the General Assembly had to construct a new office for the new Democrat.
There are 36 Republicans and 114 Democrats in the state House. The Democrats control 24 of 36 state Senate seats. The Democrats' advantage has grown over the past decade as support for the GOP has dwindled.
Wright is seeking legislation to limit the number of employees the General Assembly can hire.
He said that having staff numbers proportional to the number of members in each caucus is "only fair" and the current imbalance in favor of the Republicans should be changed.
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