Minnesota by the numbers: Senate expense report edition

So far this year, the 67 members of the Minnesota Senate have filed expense reports totalling $226,539. In keeping with historical patterns, however, there is considerable variation between individual senators. Those who live the furthest from the Capitol typically wind up with biggest tabs because of their greater travel and lodging expenses.

That probably explains why State Sen. Leroy Stumpf sits atop the expense report heap for 2006. The seven term DFLer hails from the northwest Minnesota hamlet of Plummer, a 310 mile drive from St. Paul. Stumpf, who has filed for total reimbursements of $9,217 so far this year, has accumulated $4,186 in mileage alone. Gubernatorial hopeful Steve Kelley, meanwhile, has submitted the lowest request for reimbursements in 2006: $876. Like 15 of his colleagues (mainly fellow metro area legislators), the Hopkins DFL-er has requested zero compensation for his mileage.

Stumpf was also the senate's resident expense king in 2005, when he was reimbursed for a total of $40,042. Winona Republican Bob Kierlin earned the distinction as the thriftiest state senator of 2005. His total filings amounted to just $905.

Some other 2005 figures for notable senators:

Majority leader Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar): $30,568 Minority leader Dick Day (R-Owatonna): $27,368 President of the Senate James Metzen (DLF-South St. Paul):$10,698 Gubernatorial hopeful Becky Lourey (DFL-Kerrick): $27,002 Sixth district congressional candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater): $10,629 Good government advocate John Marty (DFL-Roseville): $9,447

According to the Senate Office of Fiscal Services, which supplied the above data, senators are entitled to submit expenses in three broad categories: per diems ($66); mileage (at the IRS rate of 44.5 cents per mile); and "other," a catch-all category that includes lodging expenses (with a maximum of $85 per night for hotel rooms and $900 a month for apartment leases), communications (internet, phones, and fax lines are covered), intern reimbursement ($50 a week max) and workshop or conference expenses (which must be approved by applicable senate committees).

All this, of course, is on top of the senators' relatively modest annual salary of $31,140, a figure has remain unchanged since 1999.

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