MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) During the COVID-19 crisis, Vermont lawmakers are working completely remotely, attending meetings over video chat instead of commuting or living in Montpelier.
Top lawmakers say this has saved the state big bucks in food, housing and travel reimbursements.
Before the coronavirus, the Legislature would spend about $265,000 a week on travel, meals and salaries.
But as soon as COVID-19 shut down the Statehouse on March 13, lawmakers' expense reimbursements were immediately cut off.
They're now spending about $160,000 a week, mostly on salaries and insurance.
"It was a massive reduction in expense when we cut that off because, if you think about it, it's $70 a day for food, mileage for people who drive every day, which adds up pretty quickly, and in some cases actually rivals the weekly pay," said Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-President Pro Tem.
Senators and representatives are still making their weekly salary of $742. But Ashe says some lawmakers are feeling a financial strain because they can't work their off-legislative session jobs since this legislative session has dragged on for so long.