As various national media reported over the weekend, House members are under pressure to ratchet down their office budgets – and one Northern California lawmaker is touting his frugality as a result.
USA Today presented the data on members’ 2011 budget allocations so that it could be arranged in order of the percentage spent – thereby telling us who’s been most tight-fisted with his or her office budget.
Nationally, the biggest spender was Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who overshot his budget by about $8,500; his office told USA Today he will be under budget once all books for the year are reconciled. (The data was as of Dec. 31.) And the nation’s most frugal House member appears to have been Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., who spent only 60 percent of the $1,453,472 he was allotted for 2011.
The average House office budget for 2011 was $1.45 million, USA Today reported, with different members allotted different amounts based on factors including a district’s geographical size, its distance from Washington, D.C., local office rental costs and so on. Also, lawmakers who’ve been in Congress for longer tend to have more experienced staffers who draw higher salaries.
Lawmakers must cut their budgets by 6.4 percent this year after a 5 percent cut in 2011.
Here’s how the Bay Area’s members stacked up with their 2011 budget allotments and the percentages they actually spent:
Garamendi issued a news release today crowing that he was more frugal than 395 of his House colleagues.
“I want to see less money spent on Congress and more resources paying down our deficit and investing in our schools, roads, health coverage, and veteran’s services,” he said in the release. “I’ve balanced the checkbook for the family ranch. I know how to make more with less. I’m proud that we managed to stay so under budget while still maintaining robust communications with and support for 10th Congressional District residents.”
But Garamendi – who’s running for re-election this year in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District – was quick to note his frugality doesn’t mean he’s out of touch. He said he hosted more than a dozen in-person and telephone town halls last year or early this year, plus resource fairs for job seekers, veterans, seniors, social services and small businesses and other events.