PA Lawmakers Use Per Diems to Buy Houses

I have often remarked that the exorbitant costs of Pennsylvania legislators’ per diems (see Tribune Review and ABC 27 stories) – that they receive to pay for food and lodging, albeit without receipts – was more than enough to cover rent or a mortgage payment.

Turns out, many legislators have indeed bought homes in Harrisburg, while continuing to collect per diems for their lodging. The Scranton Times finds that state Reps. Wansacz , Eachus, Peifer, Scavello, and Yudichak (who represent parts of Northeastern PA) all uses per diems to pay their mortgages on homes in Harrisburg.

Does it matter that they used the money to buy a home rather than rent a room in the Hilton? No. But the value of per diems is excessive for taxpayers, especially given the fact lawmakers need not actually spend that money, but could pocket it. I would also note that per diems are not mentioned in the PA Constitution, when it says lawmakers shall receive “salary and mileage…and no other compensation whatever” That would seem to include a new house.

Here is a modest proposal – instead of paying per diems, taxpayers would save by building (or buying) a dormitory for lawmakers.