Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moron Legislative Perks

Okay, I’ll admit it. When I started to type “More on” in the heading for this post my writing muse tapped on my shoulder. Moronic is not a bad way to look at the shenanigans with the pay and perks of the Maryland General Assembly.

My buddy Len Lazerick is all over this.

On December 9th he wrote this analysis of the pending compensation commission review which will soon determine “whether legislators will get a pay hike after the next election. The panel will also review pensions and expenses such as lodging and meals,"

The last time they did this, back in 2002, legislative salaries increased by 38% over the next three years “while state employees were getting less than a third of that and personal income in Maryland as a whole was going up 20 percent.”

The things is, the General Assembly is already the second highest paid time state legislature out of 40 part time state legislatures in the country.

Number two in the country. I guess sometimes it can be preferable to at least be number two on a list.

Our elected representatives get a pretty liberal expense account too.

In a December 14th follow up on the same topic, Len took a closer look at their expense reimbursements.

A majority of the legislature lives less than an hour’s drive from Annapolis, as does a majority of its constituents. Yet the state spends $1.8 million to put them up in Annapolis. The state contracts with seven hotels to put up 60 percent of the 188 legislators for the whole 90 days at $126 a night. That’s $11,340 apiece.”

"Eighty six percent of the legislators also claim the full per diem meal reimbursement for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are not required to provide receipts."

Len points out that the savings, though not huge, would still send the right signal.

“Talking about meals and hotels when the state faces a $2 billion deficit next year seems kind of petty. But those are the sort of perks that can annoy constituents. No question that most legislators work long hours in the final weeks of the session, so why not rent those hotel rooms for 60 days instead of 90? That would save $600,000.”

“How about receipts for some of those meals? Cumbersome to be sure, especially when you’re splitting the tab, and lots of paperwork for some poor clerk, probably making less $43,500 per year.”

Then again, we could always go with my idea.


Anonymous said...

Who are the zombies on these commissions who keep voting outrageous pay raises for local and state governments?

Seriously, I'd like to have a few words with them just after I figure out why they were selected to participate.

Anonymous said...

I have a serious question, maybe a reader knows. Can I google from my kindle?

Melissa said...

I am holding you personally responsible! After our chat at Laurel Park last week, my husky, Merlin, slipped on the ice Sunday and tore his 2nd ACL. Yes, you're to blame for mentioning it, LOL. At 15 we're taking a conservative approach - he's putting some weight on it but...
Again, something I can blame the administration for? Ha Ha

Merry Christmas. It was nice to see you again the other day.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't more Howard candidates declared?

Is there something about campaign finance that they can hide if they delay declaring?

For example, Ball had a huge fundraiser that also raised alot of eyebrows regarding attendees. He held the fundraiser in Jan or Feb '09, so he doesn't have to report who attended and how much they gave him until jan 2010. Other council members report money as it arrives, but Ball is holding way back by comparison, until legally forced to report the money he took in.

If a candidate delays declaring after Jan 2010, do they have to report contributions they receive to the public prior to election time?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:09
Every current office holder is following the same campaign finance reporting requirements. I have not seen anyone, current or potential office holder, listing any official report of money rised and spent. If you have, please point out where one can find this information.

For example, who has seen an official finance report from Flanagan, Jordan, Schrader, Klein, or Kittleman?

Anonymous said...

I asked both Ball and Watson for a list of contributors/attendees at fundraisers, and Ball refused and continues to refuse to disclose this to anyone. Watson provided the information immediately.

John Bailey said...

While this may be a little trivial, I feel this is very important for perception and ethical reasons. When elected I plan on driving home each night during session. Thus saving the state over $11,000 a year. Since I am a public school teacher I am used to taking a bag lunch to work every day so I don't see that changing either. So since I will be eating breakfast at home, taking a bag lunch and driving home each night I guess I will not be needing my meal stipend. It is a 35 minute drive to Annapolis, it is inexcusable to charge the state for a hotel when it would be far cheaper to drive home and be closer to those people you are paid to represent. I would urge my opponent to make the same pledge of saving our cash strapped state much needed money.