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The cash hoarding kings? The Legislature

This is the year lawmakers scoured the budgets of state agencies to make sure they weren't hoarding money. But they left out one of the biggest cash hoarders: themselves.

Of the Legislature's current $190 million budget, about half came from unspent money from the previous year. The Legislature is the only entity that can roll money forward. Why? Because it writes the rules and is in charge of doling out taxpayers' cash.

Next budget year, the Legislature may roll over $56 million in unspent money, according to data from the state's chief financial office. But lawmakers and spokespeople say the branch of government isn't spendthrift.

''Every time we've had special session, or spending reduction for agencies,'' said House spokeswoman Jill Chamberlin, ``we have taken a similar reduction in our spending.''

The big question in the Capitol: Will legislative staff be exempt when legislators negotiate state-worker pay cuts? Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander said probably not because everyone should be treated equally. We'll see. Universities, after all, are already exempt. Story here