RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Members of the General Assembly left Richmond without voting on a single gun-control measure during Tuesday’s special legislative session. While the special session was pushed until after November’s elections, the cost for taxpayers on Tuesday was nearly $45,000.
According to Clerk of the House Paul Nardo, the cost for Tuesday’s special session was over $31,000 for House members, based on initial calculations. For the 96 delegates in attendance, the daily per diem rate was $213 per day — adding up to $20,448 — and the one round-trip mileage reimbursement totaled $11,337.84.
Clerk of the Senate, Susan C. Schaar, shared the cost of the special session’s first day for Virginia’s Senate with our sister station in Richmond. According to Schaar, the Senate members per diem totaled $8,106.36 and the total for the round trip mileage reimbursement was $4,798.82.
The overall cost for both chambers for Tuesday totaled $44,691.02.
The abrupt call to adjourn the session until Nov. 18 surprised many lawmakers. Gov. Ralph Northam, who called for the special session after the mass shooting inside a Virginia Beach municipal building, said Virginia expected better of Republicans in the General Assembly.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) told our sister station Wednesday that taxpayers “didn’t get their money’s worth” from the first day of the special session.
“It’s unfortunate taxpayers didn’t get their money’s worth out of yesterday’s session,” Sen. Saslaw said. “It’s not the first time Virginians got shortchanged but if history is any judge, it won’t be the last.”
Virginia Republicans criticized the special session as “political theater” from the governor. Parker Slaybaugh, the spokesman for House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), told 8News that Tuesday’s session could have been avoided if Northam had decided to call upon his own review panel.
“We’re disappointed that Governor Northam and Virginia Democrats chose to spend taxpayer money to try and distract from the many scandals plaguing Democrats,” Parker Slaybaugh, spokesman for House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), told 8News. “Had Governor Northam simply convened a review panel on his own from the very beginning, we would have not needed to come into session to do it for him.”
Jake Rubenstein, communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, called out GOP lawmakers for adjourning the session after only 90 minutes and suggested a way for them to pay back Virginia’s taxpayers.
“Virginia Republicans should pay the citizens of Virginia back the $45,000 cost of the 90 minute special session from the NRA contributions they will get for blocking action on gun violence protection,” Rubenstein told our sister station.
Gov. Northam’s office has yet to respond to our sister station’s request for comment.