Per diems add up for lawmakers

State lawmakers could make more than $85,000 in per diem payments and their annual salary for this year’s regular session, according to data from the Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency. Per diems for next year’s regular session were vetoed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy earlier this year, drawing new attention to lawmaker’s daily payments.

Per diem payments are made in addition to legislators’ annual salaries, which are set at roughly $50,400, and are meant to cover daily expenses, such as food and housing, for lawmakers not local to Juneau. This year’s per diem payments came out to $293 per day in a session.

At $293 per day, a lawmaker will receive $35,453 in per diem payments for the 32nd Legislature’s 121-day regular session. That’s unless they opt out for days they weren’t working at the Capitol during the session. When added to an annual salary of $50,400, that leaves lawmakers with about $85,853 for the year in addition to whatever per diems they claim for the two special sessions.

State data show that, as of June 18, no central peninsula lawmakers had opted out of any per diem days during the regular session.

Rep. Ron Gillham, R-Kenai, was the only local lawmaker to have already submitted a per diem claim form for 14 days of the legislature’s first special session. At $293 per day, he will receive $4,102 for that session. Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, and Gillham had not claimed per diems for the 32nd Legislature’s second special session as of June 30. Lawmakers have until July 31 to submit per diem claim forms.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at