Much of House budget savings symbolic

Sept. 6, 2011 at 12:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Budget-cutting mandates the House passed in the early days of Republican John Boehner's turn as speaker may be more symbolic than practical, a review indicated.

Cuts included in the two mandates passed resulted in pay raises for chiefs of staff even as the payroll for lower level aides was slashed, The Washington Times reported Monday.

The largest savings -- mass mailings to constituents -- might not come so much from financial discretion as technology, the Times' review indicated.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee saw its budget shrink to $1.5 million last quarter from $1.9 million a year ago, while the budget for its security force rose by a greater amount. The budget for the House Ethics Committee, which investigates accusations of wrongdoing by members, was cut more than 30 percent.

The House Appropriations Committee laid off 50 staffers, shrinking its budget by $2 million, the Times review indicated.

"The thinking is, if we're going to ask other federal agencies to trim, we've got to feel it, too," said Dino diSanto, chief of staff to Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

House salaries were about $130 million last quarter, more than $7 million below last year's comparable period, the Times said. About $140,000 came from a reduction in the amount spent on interns, which fell to about $500,000. Pay to chiefs of staff, however, increased by about $700,000, to $14 million.

Gone, too, is the House page program, which paid high school students to shuttle documents for lawmakers.

The biggest savings, the Times found, came from taxpayer-funded constituent mailings, known as franking. The amount spent on printing and sending mailings dropped by $10 million in the second quarter compared with a previous year.

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