Sometimes I really wonder how state legislators – who I’m assuming at one point in their lives were relatively “normal” people like you and I – got so out of touch about what it means to serve the public. A perfect example of what I’m talking about is the decision by state lawmakers to continue to take reimbursements from their campaign funds for meals, hotels and meetings on days they also accept their daily expense allowances paid for by taxpayers. Why should lawmakers be allowed to double dip on the taxpayers’ dime, especially at a time when our state is faced with a 5.4 billion dollar budget shortfall?
The per diem system cost taxpayers $1.2 million in 2007, and while that might not seem like a heck of a lot of money considering the size of our state’s budget deficit, I think every little bit of savings helps. The decision to continue to double dip reeks of greed and arrogance, and I’m not alone in thinking that:
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, called it the “height of arrogance” for legislators to show no interest in making themselves more accountable, especially at a time when taxpayers are reeling from job losses and shrinking retirement accounts.
Heck said legislators don’t seem to care that the average person, unlike lawmakers, can’t collect a per diem even on days they do little or no work. Likewise, he said, taxpayers don’t have the luxury of getting paid twice for the same expense – from campaign funds and state per diems.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum should be ashamed of themselves for double dipping on the taxpayers’ dime at a time when lawmakers should be looking to cut costs wherever possible, instead of looking to line their pockets.