Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. bucks trend, wants bigger budget for own office

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Unhappy with the cuts that lawmakers in Washington agreed to last week in their own office allowances, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. proposed Tuesday that they award themselves a raise instead.

In a gesture signalling their commitment to reducing government overhead, last week the House voted 408-13 to reduce their annual office allowance by 5 percent. House members are allotted $1.5 million annually for the cost of staffing an office in Washington and in their home districts.

On Tuesday, Jackson proposed that instead of a cut, the office allowance be increased by 10 percent, citing the need for additional security after the Arizona shooting spree that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed 6 others.

In a statement, Jackson said: “My staff is working on a proposal to restore last week’s 5 percent cut in member budgets, because in this economic climate, we should be providing more services to our constituents – not less.  On top of that, I will propose a 10% increase in member budgets for security measures.  In some districts, that will mean hiring security personnel for public events.  In other areas, that may mean installing surveillance cameras at district offices as a deterrent or improving the locks or the entry systems in district offices.  Some will need more resources in order to move their offices to a safer area.

“I do not feel that fear should grip us, but since 9/11 we’ve secured every federal facility with the exception of our district offices. After the events of last weekend it is clear that our district staffs are vulnerable. Members should have the resources and the latitude to take the appropriate security measures in order to protect themselves and their staffs.”

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