Travel reimbursement increase proposed for state officials - KOTA Territory News

Travel reimbursement increase proposed for state officials

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How far would you go to represent your state and more importantly, how much would you be willing to pay?
 
South Dakota legislators battle over what's been called an "archaic" and "outdated" portion of our constitution- one that hits them right in the wallet.

"A lot of people find it ironic that 5 cents law is still on the books," said Rep. Kristin Conzet, District 32.
 
Five cents, per mile, for 172 miles. That's the rate representatives like Mark Kirkeby are reimbursed at when they head to Pierre on state business.
 
"A lot of us own traditional big size vehicles. I get 12 miles a gallon," said district 35 Rep. Kirkeby.
 
It costs Kirkeby roughly $100 dollars for a round trip to Pierre, and he gets compensated for $17 dollars of that cost.
 
"It does add up," said Kirkeby.
 
The 5-cent rate dates to the end of the 19th century, before motor vehicles hit the road, and some believe its time for an update.
 
"It's their personal vehicles. We don't pay their gas, we don't pay their tires, or their oil. I think its fair," said Chay Parker of Rapid City.
 
Amendment N aims to increase that 5 cents to 37 cents which would take roughly $12,000 annually out of the state general fund.
 
"I couldn't bite that bullet and take more money out of the general fund and put it into my pocket," said Rep. Conzet.
 
A strong opponent to the amendment, Conzet says the travel costs are just part of the job.
 
"When we go [to Pierre] as representatives and senators, we get paid $6,000 a year," said Conzet.
 
But for Kirkeby it's a small update that eases the burden of rising gas prices.
 
"Legislators are in the game to do the citizens work," said Kirkeby.

"I love the process, that this has been brought to the people, they get to decide," said Conzet.

Conzet says carpooling may be a way to lower transportation costs. Voters will decide on the amendment on election day.

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