Politicians

Iowa Lawmakers Grant Themselves Generous Salaries and Bennies

And don't you wish you could do the same?

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DES MOINES – Iowa lawmakers oversee a budget of roughly $6 billion in state taxpayer money annually, whether it be providing health care for the needy or luring companies to the state with millions of dollars in tax breaks and loans. They set policy that affects everything from state's economy to the education of its children.

They also have the final say in setting their salary, health benefits and pensions — a luxury few private-sector jobs afford their employees.

As legislators in the Hawkeye State flock to Des Moines this week to kick off the 2013 session, Iowa Watchdog took a look at what they earn and the perks of the work they will do during the next 110 days and beyond.

Interviews with lawmakers and state documents reveal state senators and representatives have raised their salaries twice in the past two decades. They, however, recently have increased other perks, such as health benefits and the per diem stipends they get during the legislative session and for the meetings they attend once it ends.