Travel is a big part of Begich's budget because he travels back to Alaska a lot to meet with his constituents:U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is furloughing more than half his staff and giving up part of his salary due to automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, his office said.
Begich is the lone member of Alaska's congressional delegation to furlough staff amid the cuts. Begich also has the highest number of staff among the three-member delegation, at 41.
Spokeswoman Heather Handyside said 26 of Begich's staff will be furloughed for at least two days but perhaps four or more. Furloughed staff won't be paid for the days they're out. Staff members have until the end of September to take their mandatory time off.
Handyside said that if staffers are furloughed for two days, Begich will give back two days' worth of his $174,000 salary. If they're furloughed for four days, it would be the equivalent of four days' pay.
Handyside said travel and printing also have been cut from the budget.
Begich, in a statement, said there's no reason that members of Congress shouldn't feel the financial pinch, like anyone else.
"This won't solve our spending problem on its own, but I hope it is a reminder to Alaskans that I am willing to make the tough cuts, wherever they may be, to get our spending under control," he said. - Anchorage Daily News, 4/4/13
Mark Begich is the only Senator to give back part of his salary to the Treasury and furlough his staff. Begich's staff has stated that they are cutting $158,000 from his $3.1 million budget. His staff has also pointed out that Begich has cut his office budget by about $800,000 over the past four years, returning that money to the Treasury. Begich's colleagues, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R. AK) and Congressman Don Young (R. AK-AL) are not planning any furloughs. I applaud Senator Begich for going the same route as President Obama, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and members of the Obama Administration in helping out federal workers:Seven of the 10 senators who had spent most of their budgets by Sept. 30 are Democrats. Mark Begich of Alaska had about $60,000 left in his budget of just more than $3 million, records show. Travel costs were a major factor, says Amy Miller, spokeswoman for the first-term Democrat.
"We are not over budget and won't be over budget," Miller says. "It is the senator's belief that while in office he should do everything he possibly can to help Alaskans resolve issues involving the federal government. Case work is a high priority for our office, and we hire as many talented people as we can with the resources available to ensure Alaskans get the help they need."
High travel costs between Washington and Alaska and inside Alaska itself is expensive, she says. "Most travel has to be done by air, and it can cost $1,000 or more to travel between two communities in state." - USA Today, 12/25/12
I hope the good people of Alaska remember this come next year. Especially since Begich is a top target for Republicans:Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plan to donate 5 percent of their government pay to charities for employees of their respective agencies, the officials said Thursday.
As we noted in recent stories and blog items, voluntary pay cuts have become a trend as politicians and high-ranking agency officials demonstrate solidarity with federal employees who face furloughs and other cutbacks as a result of the government-wide spending reductions that took effect last month.
To date, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder, Environmental Protection Agency acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe and various top-level Housing and Urban Development officials have also said they will donate some of their pay to charities or send a portion of their salaries back to the Treasury. - Washington Post, 4/4/13
I have written quite a bit about Begich from his plan to strengthen Social Security:Jennifer Duffy, who tracks the Senate for the Cook Political Report in Washington, rates Begich’s re-election bid as leaning in his favor, but she predicts that the race will be a tossup come next fall after a single Republican foe emerges.
“Against a good candidate, he’s going to have a very competitive race,” Duffy said. “It’s up to the Republicans to produce a good candidate.”
“I don’t really want to get in a tit-for-tat with Mark on a bunch of issues,” Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who’s weighing a run against Begich next year, said last month. “But I don’t believe his core votes in the Senate reflect the electorate who put him in it.”
Three other possible GOP candidates – Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan and 2010 Senate Republican nominee Joe Miller – declined to speak with McClatchy. Former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman said he, too, is weighing a run against Begich. - McClatchy, 4/4/13
I've also written about how he's been great on Native American issues and is calling out the Alaska GOP's efforts to suppress the Native American vote in Alaska:
You may not agree on everything with Begich but he is a true blue public servant who is serious about not wasting taxpayer money and helping out federal workers. Lets give him the resources he needs to win next year: