bargain barracks - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

bargain barracks

The Pentagon Barracks -- where 48 legislators have apartments -- drew all kinds of attention when Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu spent nearly half a million dollars renovating his apartment there. B ut how much do legislators really pay to live there? WAFB's Julie Baxtertakes you inside one of their apartments -- and asks whether these are really .... "bargain barracks."

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[cg at 0:51:name - title\sen. Nick gautreaux\(d) abbeville]

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freshman senator nick gautreaux doesn't have far to walk home from work.....now that he's one of 23 senators and 25 representatives who rent here at the pentagon.

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<it was costing me roughly four or five hundred dollars a week--400 dollars to stay at a hotel.>

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{***vo***}before senator gautreaux got this apartment, he was driving 250 miles round-trip to go home across the river to abbeville--with traffic time, that's about like driving to houston every day. Legislators get reimbursed mileage for only one round-trip home a week, he says.

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<>so when he showed us around his apartment he was concerned people not think living at the pentagon means living in luxury....

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<it's just the basic essentials and the way i see it is it looks like an apartment i actually had 20 years ago when i got out of high school during college.>

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and true enough, it was a rather sparsely furnished, very-much-bachelor-pad look....

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<it looks like you've never cooked!/actually i never did--i still have these things--because they were really filthy when i got in here, so my wife got me some new ones.>

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{***graphics vo***}legislators get paid $16,800 a year, $2500 a month that includes running an office and an expense account, $115 per day during session, and 44.5 cents per mile reimbursement for gas.

[take vo]{***vo***}and legislators have taken heat for the low rent they pay here--when one bedrooms in baton rouge normally go for an average $545 month, and two bedrooms for around $680.

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<here at the pentagon barracks a one bedroom goes for about 300 dollars a month, a two bedroom about 375 dollars a month. But senator gautreaux says that's not as cheap as it sounds when you remember that representatives and senators live here only a couple months out of the year. >

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<we're here maybe two or three months out of the year but when you look at what we're really paying, we're really paying $1200 a month because the rest of the time we may only use it once, twice, through the period of time.>

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during this three-month session, this is where senator gautreaux returns twenty or thirty phone calls a day to constituents, he says, reads over bills and catches up on the news--....*here's* why he tries to only stay here three nights a week...his four girls, the youngest one, just four months old....

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<i want people to really realize it's not that we're really living the luxurious life, all we're doing is having the simple basic needs.>

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just one of the 48 stories you could tell about those who live here in the shadow of the capitol. Julie baxter, wafb nine news.

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