February 6, 2009

Per diems: Vos claims least; Gunderson most

Wispolitics.com has done the heavy lifting: The state's legislators claimed $831,050 in per diem payments in 2008.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel took the next step, tallying the fact that 19 of the state's 132 legislators claimed daily expense stipends of more than $10,000, with two -- one from Wisconsin Rapids and the other from Black River Falls -- each collecting $13,464.

But they've left it to little ol' us to tell you how much Racine County lawmakers claimed for their trek to Madison on legislative business. Here are the numbers:
  • Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-83, Waterford: 118 days = $10,384.
  • Rep. Bob Turner, D-61, Racine: 110 days = $9,680.
  • Rep. Cory Mason, D-62, Racine: 108 days = $9,504.
  • Sen. John Lehman, D-21, Racine: 83 days = $7,304.
  • Rep. Robin Vos, R-63, Caledonia: 76 days = $6,688.
Now, before you go "Whoa, that's a lot of money just for driving to Madison," consider this: the Federal mileage reimbursement rate is 58.5 cents per mile, meaning the IRS says driving the 200-mile round trip from Racine to Madison actually costs about $117. Of course, the feds aren't thinking about car pools -- or whether our lawmakers are having a Big Mac or vending machine peanut butter crackers for lunch, or a real meal and the occasional overnight stay at Motel 6 the Monoma Terrace Hilton. In any case, each of our lawmakers received the full $88 per day the state allows, as well as their $47,000 per year salary (which goes up to $49,000 this year.)

The full list of Assembly payments is here; Senate payments are here.


  1. The interesting twist about this is that, on first blush, one might think it is good to claim less than more. However, because per diem is tied to how many days a legislator is in Madison on legislative business, claiming more per diem means that legislator is, apparently, working more. Perhaps those lower on the list should be asked why they don't work harder.

  2. That logic would work if 2008 was not an election year. They should be home talking to their constituents when the legislature isn't in session, not in Madison getting paid to sit around and look at the walls.

  3. Your constituents can contact you via phone, email, fax....in person. You really need to be in the City that can get you the money...working,,,interfacing, connecting with others who can help you accomplish just what your constituents send you to Madison to do. Maybe some of our reps have too much other, personal business to attend to....business that causes their precious time to be spread too thin?? HHHMMM??

  4. They also get reimbursed for mileage.

  5. Something to remember - the State Legislator positions are part-time jobs. They're only in Madison (usually) 2 days a week and there is little if any business at all during the entire summer.

    I'd rather see my legislator in the district finding out what the people want, than hanging out in Madison on days when he doesn't need to vote finding out what the other politicians want.