The Senate’s budget chairman missed three days at the Legislature this week, while on a trip in Texas.
Sen. Ty Masterson’s absence was questioned during a GOP caucus meeting on Wednesday before the Senate debate a tax bill. Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, demanded to know Masterson’s whereabouts and whether a rumor he was on vacation was true.
Senate leadership would only say that he was in Texas and Masterson’s chief of staff said he was dealing with family obligations.
“I was not on vacation,” Masterson said Friday afternoon when he returned to the Legislature. “Did I do something vacationy while I was there? I’m going to say yes, because I don’t want to be a liar.”
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Masterson said he was dealing with a family matter in Texas, but would not offer specific details. Masterson’s absence was excused, but he said he would be refusing pay for the time he was away.
“I did refuse pay,” Masterson said. “The thing that really bothers me is I asked for the form that refuses pay before I ever left, but they (Administrative Services) would not deliver it to my staff and I had left the building. So I didn’t get to do it until I returned and the difficulty is it looks like I did it under duress.”
“I will also say I worked every day I was down there,” Masterson said. “I listened to the debates (via webstream). I had conversations with members from both chambers. I was involved in the debate and still not getting paid.”
This is not the first time that Masterson has faced scrutiny over travel. Last year Masterson left for a trip to Jamaica with his wife while the Legislature was still in the process of debating a school finance bill even though he was one of the lead negotiators on the bill.
Masterson is not the only senator to be absent this year as lawmakers look for a budget fix. Lawmakers say Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina, is on an Alaskan cruise.