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State Representative Saves Bucks by Living in RV

Posted February 6, 2007
Updated February 7, 2007

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— While lawmakers are hard at work in downtown Raleigh, many move to the area for the session. But one legislator stands out for his temporary home on wheels.

Rep. Charles Thomas, R-Buncombe, is new in the State Legislature this term. A 40-foot RV has become his house while he serves in the House.

Thomas said the motor home is better than renting a room or buying a house during the session.

“It's certainly a very efficient cost option, shall we say,” he said.

For Thomas, the RV has sort of become a symbol of the North Carolina custom of paying lawmakers little.

“We don't have any bus drivers or factory workers in the General Assembly,” he said. “Can the average citizen really fun for office and serve?”

In North Carolina, lawmakers are paid about $13,000 a year, plus $104 a day when they're in session. They're also reimbursed for travel but can only claim one trip a week, when they get 29 cents a mile. The federal rate is 48.5 cents a mile.

In the North Carolina House of Representatives, half the members are attorneys, businesses owners and executives, or they're retired. In the Senate, half of its members are attorneys or retirees.

“I think the real question is if you change the compensation structure, would it really make a difference from the standpoint of encouraging other folks to run? And I don't know the answer to that,” Thomas said.

But Thomas said that it's an issue worth talking about. But he said he's not trying to make a statement with his mobile home. He said it's not only cost-effective and convenient, but it’s a place his kids love too.

In Virginia, state Senators make $360 a year more than Representatives. In South Carolina, lawmakers earn just over $10,000 a year. Lawmakers in both states also receive daily stipends for housing and meals.

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  • ohmyteacher Feb 7, 2007

    Ordinary citizens cannot run because they cannot afford the cost of running for state office. Personally, I'd like to make $13,000 per year PLUS $104 a day. Just add up that $104 a day for ALL the days the legislators are in Raleigh. The way to make this whole thing work is to pay them ONLY an annual salary and LIMIT the days they can be in session. An example, New Mexico.

  • blueridgelab Feb 7, 2007

    The problem is that we don't have enough people willing to be citizen servants. That's what's wrong with the US Congress. Money. The idea is that if we pay them a lot of money then they won't be tempted to take bribes or be easily influenced. But that just hasn't worked out. Somehow I don't think it'll work out here either. Those who run for State office should weigh the cost of public service. before entering the field.

  • xrayscnu Feb 7, 2007

    Does he want us to feel sorry for him? Looks pretty nice to me.

  • BlarneyStone Feb 7, 2007

    This story didn't show all the tv news story did... This lawmaker was trying to make a point by doing this... He believes the lawmakers should ponder possibly raising the $13,000 so "average" citizens can join the legislature.

    What a load of crap.

  • xrayscnu Feb 7, 2007

    Who cares!What a stupid story.

  • 1Raleigh native Feb 7, 2007

    "In [NC], lawmakers are paid about $13,000 a year, plus $104 a day when they're in session. ... also reimbursed for travel but can only claim one trip a week, when they get 29 cents a mile. The federal rate is 48.5 cents a mile." - NOte state employees get 25 cents a mile to do states business. and lawmakers only average working about 4 days a week.

  • BOBO Feb 7, 2007

    Does anyone know what is included in the pension packages for former lawmakers? I would wager that they are well taken care of for suffering through being paid "little" while in office. It's called Public Service for a reason.

  • Wildman Feb 7, 2007

    Well ain't that great.....there wasn't supposed to be any such thing as a professional politician in this country anyway...mebbe we should do the same on national level......pay em $13K/yr....see how many are left by next election....of course, they wouldn't vote to do that to themselves...

  • Pippy999 Feb 6, 2007

    I'm all for a politician SAVING money!

  • huntleyperez Feb 6, 2007

    looks nicer than my house!