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Politics & Government

State Lawmakers Take Another Stab At Per Diem Reform

At least 19 state senators are supporting a proposal to tighten the strings of the Legislature's money purse. The plan would make lawmakers submit itemized receipts before being reimbursed for work-related expenses.

Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) is reintroducing the bill, which failed to move last session. This time, the list of co-sponsors includes the chairman of the committee to which it's been referred, though Vulakovich said he's still not sure if it'll receive vote, or a hearing, any time soon.

"There's like this dark cloud hanging over it," said Vulakovich. Senators can claim the nearly $160 daily allowances when they're on legislative duty. They are not required to document how the money is spent.

"And is everybody abusing it? No," said Vulakovich. "Are there some? Maybe."

Vulakovich said the receipt mandate might even save taxpayers some money. He said it's hard to believe that lawmakers who take their per diems are spending every dollar on work-related expenses.

"It's not a big secret that lobbyists will take you out for certain meals that you have," Vulakovich said. "So you're not spending money on that meal, so why should you be reimbursed for it?"

Lawmakers have been criticized for racking up thousands of dollars in per diem payments in a year. Others have been exposed for collecting per diems that were used to help pay for properties they bought in Harrisburg.