Here is the fourth installment of waste in the legislature, as detailed in the recent grand jury report.

Perks by the day

State legislators in Harrisburg enjoy some of the most expensive perks in the nation. It's another example of your tax dollars being wasted.

One of the most costly perks is the "per diem" expenses paid to legislators just to show up in Harrisburg. In theory it's to reimburse them for hotel and meal expenses at a maximum of $163 per day.

In recent years, some individual legislators have collected as much as $46,000 per year in per diem expenses - more than the salaries of lawmakers in most other states. They collect this money on top of their salaries, car expenses, Cadillac health and pension benefits, and other perks.

The grand jury also heard information about a "scheme" in the House Republican Caucus to further pad legislators' expense accounts.

Most voting sessions in Harrisburg occur on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Thursdays of such weeks are considered "nonvoting" session days. On those Thursday mornings, the report said, House Republican leaders set up their caucus room with a breakfast buffet of doughnuts, eggs, and fruit plates. A sign-in sheet was available. Any Republican legislator who signed in for breakfast was entitled to collect full per diem expenses, courtesy of taxpayers.

Legislators may talk a good game about watching your tax dollars. But only after they spend freely on themselves.

To read the grand jury's report, go to: www.philly.com/bonusgate.