Mathews: lawmakers don't need interim secretaries

Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Sparks, told the Senate Finance Committee this week she wants a permanent secretary's position for Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins removed from the legislative budget.

"Take that position out," said Mathews, adding she wasn't aware Perkins had a secretary on state payroll when the Legislature is out of session. She said it wasn't clearly identified in the budget and no other lawmaker has a full-time secretary.

Mathews said they are part-time lawmakers and shouldn't have a secretary when the Legislature is not in session.

Senate Finance chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, agreed the position is unique. He said he doesn't have secretarial help in the interim.

"I did not know this was going to be covered in the interim budget," he said. "I did not feel it was necessary for the majority leader of the Senate."

"I need it clearly identified if we do not get it out of the budget altogether," said Mathews.

Raggio said he first wanted comment from Perkins before taking any such action.

The position was budgeted for a total of $65,716 during fiscal 2004 - about $46,000 of that in pay.

Perkins said the position was approved last session because of the workload on the Assembly which continues after session."When I took over from Joe Dini, I found this office becomes fairly overwhelmed," he said.

He said Nevada is one of few states that doesn't have interim secretarial help.

"She stays really busy," he said.

But he said none of her work is political business, only legislative, and that she is available to any member of the Assembly who needs help between sessions, which occur every other year.

He said he pays for a political staff person with campaign funding.

"I'm the only member of this Legislature who pays somebody out of campaign funds to keep politics completely separate," Perkins said.

He said it wasn't a first step toward other members such as committee chairmen asking permanent secretarial help: "I wouldn't approve that."

But he said there should be someone in the office all year to answer calls from the public seeking legislative help.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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