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?
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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.