New Commission Will Oversee House Spending

Premier's Office

March 26, 2010 10:19 AM

A new commission that will bring more transparency and accountability to the finances of the House of Assembly and its members was introduced today, March 26, by Premier Darrell Dexter.

The House of Assembly Management Commission Act establishes a commission to oversee and manage the finances of the House of Assembly, and will replace the Internal Economy Board. The commission will hold its meetings in public.

"I promised Nova Scotians that their demands for an open and transparent system for MLA expenses would be met," said Premier Dexter. "This act is just another step towards modernizing the way legislative finances are managed."

Highlights of the Bill include:
-- establishing an all-party House of Assembly Management Commission to oversee all legislative spending and expenses and conducting an annual audit
-- establishing an audit committee, which will include two non-MLAs selected by the Chief Justice of the province, to oversee the audit of legislature spending
-- Auditor general will regularly audit House spending
-- publishing MLA expenses, financial information and other commission records online
-- requiring the legislature to vote on changes to expense allowances
-- developing an orientation program and resource information for new MLAs.

"This legislation will provide clear and detailed guidelines to MLAs," said Premier Dexter. "It follows the significant changes we have already made as we ensure that an effective, accountable system is put in place."

Since last June, government and the legislature have taken many steps to reduce MLA expenses and allowances. They include:
-- freezing MLA and political staff salaries
-- getting rid of the $45,000 transition allowance for MLAs who retire, quit or are not re-elected
-- eliminating the $2,500 technology fund available to each MLA
-- ensuring that furniture and other office equipment is given back to the province once an MLA is finished with it
-- reducing the constituency allowance by 21 per cent
-- canceling the paying of per diem rates for committees that do not meet
-- eliminating a $1,050 monthly allowance
-- reducing the daily per diem rate for MLAs while sitting in the legislature to $38 per day from $84
-- ensuring that all allowances that did not require receipts in the past now require receipts
-- eliminating extra pay for cabinet ministers and the Speaker who chair committees

Premier Dexter said the changes made since June, and the legislation introduced today, are the right steps to ensure a fair, open, transparent, and accountable system for MLAs and serves the public interest.

The bill can be found on the Legislature website at www.gov.ns.ca/legislature .


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     A new commission that will bring more transparency and

accountability to the finances of the House of Assembly and its

members was introduced today (March 26th) by Premier Darrell

Dexter.

     The House of Assembly Management Commission Act establishes

a commission to oversee and manage the finances of the House of

Assembly, and will replace the Internal Economy Board. The

commission will hold its meetings in public.

     Some other highlights of the bill include establishing an

audit committee, ensuring the Auditor General regularly audits

House spending and publishing MLA expenses, financial

information and other commission records online.

-30-

Media Contact: Janet Lynn McNeil
              Premier's Office
              Cell: 902-237-4287
              E-mail: mcneiljl@gov.ns.ca