Ayotte, Shaheen return money to federal treasuryBy JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter
March 07. 2013 5:41PM
Citing a need to lead by example, both of New Hampshire's U.S. senators said Thursday they returned hundreds of thousands of dollars to the federal treasury following the close of the most recent fiscal year.
Republican Kelly Ayotte said she is returning more than one-fifth of her Fiscal 2012 office budget.
She received a budget of $2,974,624 for Fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30, 2012, and says she will return $630,785 of it, or 21 percent.
A year ago, Ayotte returned $591,286, or 26 percent, of her Fiscal 2011 budget of $2,254,806.
Democrat Jeanne Shaheen had an identical Fiscal 2012 budget of $2,974,624 and returned $339,330 of it, or 11 percent, to the treasury.
In Fiscal 2011, Shaheen returned $538,156, or 18 percent, of her office's $3,006,407 budget.
In the four fiscal years that have passed since Shaheen took office in 2009, her office has returned a total of $2.06 million, or 18 percent, of her combined office budgets, said her spokesman, Shripal Shah.
Ayotte has returned $1.2 million, or 23 percent of her combined office budgets since she has been in the Senate.
Ayotte said, "With almost $17 trillion in debt, no area of federal spending should be immune to reductions, and that includes congressional office budgets. In the last two years, I have returned savings to the Treasury and I will continue this practice."
Shaheen said, "We need to be responsible with taxpayer dollars and I believe in leading by example. Families across the country are tightening their belts and Congress ought to do the same with their own budgets."
Ayotte spokesman Liz Johnson said that, according to the Financial Clerk of the Senate, office budgets are determined primarily by each state's population. Geographic proximity to Washington, D.C., is also a factor.
"Senator Ayotte makes careful and thoughtful decisions about personnel and operations," Johnson said. "Our office is also always looking for smaller ways to achieve savings, such as sending e-mail responses to constituents instead of postal mail, whenever appropriate."
The offices' budgets cover the senators' offices in Washington and New Hampshire.
Ayotte has state offices in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Berlin. Johnson said she has 36 staffers -- 21 in Washington and 15 in New Hampshire.
Shaheen has offices in Manchester, Nashua, Dover, Claremont, Keene and Berlin. Shah said she has 41 staffers -- 24 in Washington and 17 in New Hampshire.