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.