"For rent: Spacious apartments in historic buildings overlooking river. Close to Capitol. 1 to 3 bedrooms. Utilities included. $300-$565 a month." Only "favored legislators" and the lieutenant governor need apply. Baton Rouge's 2theadvoate reports that state-owned Pentagon Barracks is home to 40 legislators. State senate president Don Hines and speaker of the house Joe Salter approve all tenants.
"From July 1, 2004, to June 30, the state collected about $182,000 in rent. The cost for utilities, security, pest control and maintenance was $313,507.06.
"In a quarter of a century, the minimum rent has gone from $75 to $300. The most recent increase was in 1992, when the state raised the rent by $150 a month to appease the Internal Revenue Service.
"The tax agency raised a red flag about the apartments being leased for less than their fair market value. The agency considered the cheap rent a form of indirect income and wanted lawmakers to pay taxes on that income."
Lawmakers receive a per diem of $113 when they are in session.