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Olsen Releases Office Budget Numbers

Sacramento, CA– Three Republican lawmakers in the state Assembly have released their complete office budgets to the public. 


This action comes after the Assembly Rules Committee, which oversees lawmakers’ budgets, refused to release current budget documents to the media.


Freshmen GOP lawmakers Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, Tim Donnelly of Hesperia, and Kristin Olsen of Modesto, agreed to release their office spending records because they said such records should be open.


“I released my office budget because the public has a right to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent,” said 25th District Assemblymember Olsen. “This should not be a big deal. Taxpayer money should be public.”


The budget records issue arose because of a feud between Assembly Speaker John Perez and a fellow Democratic lawmaker, but has since erupted into a debate over the Legislative Open Records Act.  This 1975 law written by lawmakers, allows the Legislature to decide what records it will release or keep secret.


District office rent, lawmakers’ travel to and from their district offices and the capital, and the costs for those who use state vehicles appear in separate documents. For Grove and Donnelly, those costs are around $30,000 each so far this year. For Olsen, they are about $50,000.


For each of the three GOP lawmakers who released their budgets, total spending reflected is projected to be below $400,000 for 2011, while some Democratic lawmakers with high-profile committee assignments spend more than $1.6 million on salaries alone. Because Democrats have not released complete budgets, a thorough comparison is impossible.


All three lawmakers appear to be under budget for the year, according to the documents.


Assemblymember Kristin Olsen represents the 25th Assembly District, which includes both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.


Written by tina.falco@mlode.com