Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Back to the trough

If history is a guide, state lawmakers will spend more of your money this month on themselves than they do in any other month this year.

Back to the trough

Open your wallet, Pennsylvania.

It's time to spend more tax dollars on your hard-working, oh-so-productive Legislature.

June, according to a Sunday report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, is the month in which our honorables eat more of your money than in any other month of the year.

That's because June's the month of the annual state budget deadline and, hey, meeting deadlines can make a lawmaker hungry.

So, despite the fact legislators get per diems (daily dough of about $160 to spend without accountabilty; no receipts required) for food and lodging while in Harrisburg, they also get catered meals brought into the Capitol which, of course, you pay for.

The newspaper says that during a five-day period last June, catered meals totalled $64,000 at the same time lawmakers spent $105,000 in per diems.

And for the whole month of June 2012, you paid out a total of $488,000 to keep legislators fed and bedded during budget negotiations -- which, I'd note, involves but a handful of leaders; the bulk of the nation's largest full-time Legislature merely eats and waits to be told how and when to vote on whatever leaders agree to.

Oh, and lawmakers aren't the only ones you're feeding.

The newspaper reports that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delco, spent more than any other lawmaker last year -- $5,200 in June; $8,800 in March -- mostly on meals for his committee members, staff and witnesses during budget hearings and talks.

And so it goes: no money for schools, no money for this, no money for that, but nobody elected to say there's no money is going to go hungry in June.

Bon appetit!

And GRRRR.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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