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Despite the coronavirus pandemic and a lengthy statewide shutdown, Pennsylvania state lawmakers — led by Democrats in the House — still banked hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional taxpayer money for meals and lodging while on official business through a perk known as “per diems.”
The payments, known as “per diems,” have long been criticized as an unnecessary largesse for the country’s largest full-time legislature, which pays the third-highest salaries for state lawmakers in the country.
But against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused historic hardship for so many across the state, the payments are receiving fresh attention.
Per diems are flat rates lawmakers can claim when they travel more than 50 miles from their house for legislative business. Unlike in the private sector, legislators don’t have to provide receipts, leaving open the possibility that their actual daily expenses could be more or less than the full per diem rate, which in 2020 generally ranged from $178 to $200. Pennsylvania has some of the most generous per diem rates among all state legislatures, according to a national analysis.
Read the full story here, or use the lookup tool below to search for your lawmaker or county to see how much they requested in reimbursement during the coronavirus pandemic
Note: If your lawmaker’s name does not appear in this database, they likely did not receive a per diem (although, due to the pandemic, lawmakers in the House were given extra time to submit expenses). A number of lawmakers do not collect per diems because they live within a 50-mile radius of the Capitol, or because they opt out of collecting per diems altogether, and instead submit receipts to be reimbursed for food and lodging.
(Can’t see the interactive tool below? Click here.)
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