This section of the book is from the "Introduction To Public Finance" book, by Carl Copping Plehn.
The expenditure involved in the payment of salaries to legislative officers, when any such are paid, is not the largest part of the expenses caused by the maintenance of such bodies. There are the clerks, aides, pages, etc., in immediate attendance upon the bodies during their session, the expenses of elections, which in this case swell to considerable amounts, the costs of investigations, public hearings, etc., necessary to put the legislature in possession of the facts upon which to base their actions, and the expenses of promulgating laws, publishing speeches, reports, etc., all of which together form no inconsiderable burden on the finances of every nation enjoying legislative government. These expenses, also, extend from the federal government down to the municipal' governments. The desirableness or undesirableness of paying legislative officers for their services is a matter for Political Science to determine, and depends in large measure upon the traditions of the different peoples. In England relatively little is spent in this way in any of the legislative departments of the government from Parliament down to the parish. But in that country there is a tradition of unpaid public service that gives her much help in this direction. In the United States the direct emoluments and other legitimate expenses of the Federal Congress, and the direct and indirect, more or less illegal, raids by the commonwealth legislatures on the treasuries, as well as those made by the city councillors and aldermen, are very large. It has been estimated by Mr. Moffett1 that in the 52d Congress of the United States it cost $4,593,922.60 to maintain the House of Representatives alone, exclusive of election expenses, or about $6285 a day for each day of its existence including Sundays and holidays. Of this amount $3,320,000 went for salaries. There were, therefore, $1,180,000 spent on travelling expenses, clerks, subordinate house officials, and contingent expenses (including about $100,000 for stationery and newspapers). But this is by no means all. The expenses traceable mainly to this source in the reports of the auditors, of which public printing for Congress is an important item, foot up to about $7,000,000 per annum, or for the two years of the life of a Congress $14,000,000. The real cost of the federal legislature to the country is even larger than that, but the items are not easily traceable in the reports, and some of them, like election expenses, are not reported. Directly traceable to the legislative departments of both the federal and commonwealth governments were, in 1890, $10,500,000. The only expenses directly attributable to this source in England are for the officers of the House of Lords £41,595, for the officers of the House of Commons £52,133; total £93,728. But many expenses attributed to the different departments should be included. The fact that the ministry is at the same time executive and legislative causes a different distribution of • the cost, and it is impossible to arrive at an estimate even as accurate as in the case of the United States. England does not print public documents for free distribution, so that the expense for stationery and printing is less than half that of the United States, being a little over £500,000.
1 Suggestions on Government, p. 150.
Some mention should also be made of the expenses involved in the support of local or semi-local legislative bodies. For the United States, there are the State legislatures and the city councils, and,for England, the local government board and the county and municipal councils. Of these, only the commonwealth legislatures are purely legislative in character. The others perform functions which are better described as administrative. It is so difficult to obtain a correct estimate of the particular expenses for the support of these subordinate bodies as to be an unprofitable task. These bodies, too, are so intimately concerned in the administration of the other functions that we gain little by isolating the mere expenses of their maintenance. With the commonwealth legislatures, however, the matter is different. These are purely legislative. In most commonwealths the legislatures are paid per diem, and they are prevented from running up too large bills by the limitation of their term. The per diem remuneration and mileage are fixed by law, and range from $5 to $10 a day and from five cents to ten cents per mile. A loophole for additional expense is left by the necessity of allowing the legislature to appropriate money for incidental expenses. In some commonwealths, as for example in California, this power is abused to such an extent that the contingent expenses amount to much more than the mileage, regular clerk hire, etc., combined. Money is spent for the hire of personal attendants on members, stenographers, clerks, etc., for tours of inspection to various institutions, and the like. Most of this expenditure contravenes the rule of economy. England in the absence of the federal system is spared this expense.