Legislative Per Diems Versus Minimum Wage

As Zach pointed out earlier, State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the GOP Assembly members would like to raise their expense per diem from $88 to $137.50. Now I realize it’s been a while since the per diem was last changed and inflation/recession/inflation has taken some purchasing power out of their wallets…or should I say our wallets. But I really wonder how Speaker Vos thinks that this won’t cost us anything?

Lawmakers do not have to produce receipts to claim per diem, but Vos said they risk criminal false swearing charges if they lie on their expense reports.

Vos said after 14 years it was time to more accurately account for expenses and that he did not believe his plan would increase overall taxpayer costs.

“It’s actually being done in as cost-neutral a way as possible,” he said.

And it’s done on the honor system! Oh, wait, what?? Nevermind…I didn’t trust them with my money before so what’s the difference now, right?

Of course there are a few on the other side of the aisle who aren’t so sure this is a bad idea:

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said he backed the plan.

“I think it’s more equitable than what we have now,” Barca said

Now certainly I am being a little snarky here and I understand that travelling to Madison and staying overnight in the city is not only a culture shock for those from out state representatives but can hit the wallet pretty hard. Madison isn’t the cheapest place to stay in Wisconsin. And I don’t have a real problem with them being compensated in some fashion.

But here’s my real point. When it comes to the minimum wage…the purchasing power of minimum wage is likewise shrinking…so why the bluster about how it’s unaffordable…and the foot dragging about how it will harm the economy…when it’s the minimum wage earner or near minimum wage earner who is actually trying to make ends meet…instead of spiffing him/herself on an expanded perquisite? One will put my money back in the general economy in a big way…while one puts my money back in the economy in a narrow way for people I don’t think need it.

P.S. The State Senate isn’t considering changing the way they pay per diems.


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3 thoughts on “Legislative Per Diems Versus Minimum Wage

  1. The Park and Concourse hotels were already giving them breaks on over night lodging that fit within the $88 per diem. But what Vos’ plan does do is allow for legislators to meet with special interests away from the Capitol and under the cover of darkness and behind closed doors to accomplish the work of government without the public snooping around!

  2. It is doubtful anyone in the Assembly was losing money with the $88 per diem. And if they were, simple receipts for gas, food and lodging would prove it. Seems like a reasonable step before increasing by $49.50.

  3. I need to budget about $50 a week for each person in this household for groceries alone. No restaurants around the square here. $50 a day I could save money for retirement.

    Shouldn’t there be a capitol cafeteria for legislators voting for this increase, catered by Correction Corporation of America or WI Dairy surplus to feed these people in Madison at a much lower rate. Hot mac and cheese just as good as Scooter’s bag lunch eh?

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