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Are Legislative Budgets Big Enough?

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Are Legislative Budgets Big Enough?

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California's assembly took a step back from bipartisanship when Republicans chose not to vote for new Speaker John PĂ©rez.

What I'm about to ask may make your head explode, but here goes: Are the budgets for California state legislators enough?

The budgets for legislators had been a closely held secret -- secrecy that is now the subject of legal challenges and public controversy. But now five Republican lawmakers have publicly released their budget -- in defiance of legislative rules and legislative leaders.

My initial reaction to these budgets: is that all?

The base budget for members of the Assembly is $263,000.

Lawmakers also get a separate allocation -- in the tens of thousands of dollars for those who have released budgets so far. That puts spending for these five Republicans at least - Democratic legislator budgets are likely higher  -- in the low $300,000s.

That's not cheap.

But it's hardly outrageous, especially when one considers just how many people California state legislators represent.

Members of the Assembly, the lower house, represent nearly 500,000 people -- so the GOP lawmakers who released their budgets are getting less than $1 for every constitutent.

That doesn't buy a lot of service or a lot of staff. As a point of comparison, city council members in Los Angeles have office budgets of $1.7 million, according to a report earlier this year from the Pew Charitable Trusts  -- even though they represent half as many people as assemblymen.

Now, the limited disclosure we've seen doesn't explain all spending -- much of which comes through committees and the caucus as a whole. (The Associated Press has a smart story explaining the ins and outs of what we know and don't know about legislative spending).

But the legislative budgets we've seen so far are less than outrageous. 

Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @PropZero or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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