As they head into the new legislative session, Assembly Republican leaders are considering raising how much the 99 members of their chamber can claim for expenses.
Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said top Republicans have discussed raising the rate for daily expenses, known as per diem, but they have not made any final decisions. He noted payment rates have not been increased in more than a decade.
“I’m open to it. As we look at where we are, it’s something to consider,” Vos said.
Most lawmakers receive $88 a day to cover hotels and meals when they come to the Capitol. Those who live in or close to Madison receive half that amount. The payments in many cases are tax-free and come on top of their $49,943-a-year salary.
Democratic State Rep. Jon Richards summed up the hypocrisy of Republicans wanting an increase of their per diems, saying, “I think at a time when we’re trying to make ends meet with our own state employees . . . it hardly seems the right time to be raising per diem rates.”
And from the files of “unmitigated gall” comes Republican State. Rep. Scott Suder’s assertion that raising per diem rates for lawmakers is “logical” because hotel prices have risen in recent years. Apparently lost on Rep. Suder is the fact that the price of just about everything has risen over the past few years, leaving public employees (many of whom haven’t seen a pay raise in years) have seen their take-home pay drop thanks to efforts by Rep. Suder and his fellow Republicans. If Scott Suder expects public employees to see their take-home pay decrease because of increases in their contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefts, then he should expect to see his per diems frozen as well.