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More than 50 Texas state House Democrats have fled Austin for Washington in an effort to derail Republican voting reforms.

And one question raised is just who is paying for their stay?

After all, it can't be cheap. Two private jets were chartered to take them to the nation's capital. And then there are hotel rooms and meals and other needs.

Since the session is set to continue until August 7, if the Democrats hold out all those days away could add up to a pretty penny.

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Democrats insist it's not costing taxpayers. No, not at all. So are we to think these lawmakers are footing the bill themselves?

Well, don't worry too much about that. The House Democratic Caucus paid for the planes. And various left-leaning groups are busy raising funds from donors to cover the costs. Some of the absent Dems have had to pony up their own cash or slap down a credit card for day-to-day expenses, but you can bet they will be reimbursed.

The Democrats are wrong, though, when they say this isn't costing Texas taxpayers. The special session is funded by tax dollars. And this Washington escape means it's all for nothing, that all that money is wasted. The House can't do anything useful until enough Democrats return to make up a quorum. If they hold out until the session is over, the governor can call another special session costing more tax money. As many sessions as it takes, actually, until the job gets done.

We hope that some of the Democrats' donated money will be set aside to make taxpayers whole. Texans shouldn't have to pay for this headline-grabbing but ultimately futile escapade.

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