September 18, 2014

GOP considers increasing per diem

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans consider an increase in their daily allowance.

Per diems are reimbursements for food and lodging when lawmakers work at the Capitol in Madison. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported Republican leaders want more money, citing higher hotel prices, and saying per diems haven’t gone up in about a decade.

A government watchdog group says it’s a bad idea. “Legislative per diems are pretty generous already, and over the years, in fact, they’ve been abused. So, if anything, they should be reined in.”

Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says the more public officials are treated differently than the people they represent, the less they are able to relate to their constituents. “That’s one of the reasons why these per diems are a bad idea, because it sets public officials apart from the citizens that they are supposed to represent, none of whom get this kind of a benefit for showing up for work.”

McCabe says at a time when many people aren’t getting salary increases, but instead, are taking pay cuts due to the economy, state representatives shouldn’t be increasing their daily allowances.

Currently, lawmakers get $88 a day to cover their expenses when in the capital city. Lawmakers who live in Dane County get half that amount, because they don’t have to drive far or stay in a hotel.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:27