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State legislators getting bigger expense checks

A check of the headlines this week alone tells us the state is $3 billion in the red and the governor doesn't think we can afford the $26 billion bill to rebuild New York state's infrastructure.

State legislators, meanwhile, continue to party like it's 1999.

Reports the Albany Times Union:

Members will be receiving higher per diems, the stipends they get for travel expenses such as hotels and meals outside their home districts.

Starting this month, lawmakers staying in Albany will get $171 per day, up from $160 -- an increase of nearly 7 percent.

They'll get that amount no matter how much they spend. If their meal and hotel costs are lower, they keep the change. (Expenses for transportation -- such as train tickets or car mileage -- are reimbursed separately).

The Empire Center for New York State Policy has this list of legislative salaries and per diems for the 50 states based on 2007 figures. The reimbursement rate is all over the place.

Suffice to say, our guys aren't hurting by comparison. There are a few states -- including Ohio, Connecticut and New Jersey -- where lawmakers receive no per diem. They're also drawing much smaller salaries.

Given the state of the state, on top of the state of the economy, perhaps Shelly, Malcolm, Pedro and Company should party more like it's 1929.



State government
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