Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beavers hates pork; likes per diem .... a lot.

Recently, the ran a story, Local Senators' Lodging, Incidental Allowances Reach $21K, discussing the daily per diem allowances claimed by Tennessee State Senators who live within 50 miles (an hour drive) of the capitol. The per diem allowances are meant to cover the legislators lodging, meals, and other incidental expenses while away from home conducting the people's business. All of them are "entitled" to it. The question is why do lawmakers living within 50 miles of Legislative Plaza insist on claiming hotel reimbursements when they are at home most nights and not using a hotel ?? That's not "away from home." Are they just claiming it because they can ??

My State Senator, the incumbent Mae Beavers, was one of nine highlighted in the story showing her total per diem claimed last fiscal year to be $14,060. Since she lives in Wilson County, she's roughly only 25 miles from the legislature. Please note these numbers do not include monies received for mileage reimbursement. I decided to dig a little deeper into Beavers' reimbursements. When doing so, I found that she claimed the following (including mileage reimbursement) in 2009 and 2010 :
Beavers' total allowances reimbursed to her by Tennessee taxpayers for 2009-2010 totals $30,422. What I find so interesting about Beavers' reimbursements is that she has a record of preaching against excessive spending, pork, taking Federal stimulus money to plug holes in the state budget, and using the state's rainy day fund to also plug holes in the budget. In fact, her June 21, 2010 e-mail newsletter stated :
"After passing a conservative budget out of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate leaders were constrained by members of the State House in what spending they could cut to balance the budget. After negotiations with House leaders, numerous pork projects were included in the budget, in addition to raiding Tennessee’s "Rainy Day" savings account by hundreds of millions of dollars."
"I applaud the Senate for attempting to pass a conservative budget during these hard economic times," said Senator Beavers. "However, due to certain House members’ wish lists when it came to pork projects that are not affordable during these times, in addition to spending hundreds of millions of dollars from our rainy day fund, I had to vote against this budget. It’s a shame that House members would prefer to spend, spend, spend and borrow, borrow, borrow rather than operate within our means. My family operates in a pay-as-you go fashion…and the state of Tennessee needs to do the same."
Her opposition to excessive spending is fine by me. I have no problem with her on that. However, let me ask you a question. Does your boss pay you a per diem every day when you live close enough to work to drive home and sleep in your own bed each night ?? Does he or she pay for your meals each day when you commute back and forth from home ?? Does he or she pay you for mileage each day back and forth to work ?? Probably not. Right ?? However, if you are out of town on a business trip, you are reimbursed for your expenses. I have no problem paying a per diem to state legislators who live at opposite ends of the state and have to live in a hotel, apartment, etc. during the week while in legislative session. I have no problem with paying the ones who live close, such as Beavers, mileage when they are out in their district conducting legislative business or per diem while out of town on legislative business.

However, in my opinion, it is hypocritical and unethical for a "Conservative" state legislator, like Beavers, to claim per diem for lodging when she returns home each night. If that's not wasteful government spending, I don't know what is. I expect better from someone who calls themselves a Conservative. It's basically lying. When she claims per diem for lodging, she is basically saying that she spent the night away from home and had to pay for a hotel, etc. If she's in her own home, she didn't. She's not telling the truth. Now, let's say that she did stay in a hotel on nights the legislature was in session and claimed the per diem. Is that really a good use of taxpayer money when she only had about a 25 mile commute home ?? I think not. It's wasteful spending.

One last question - what would happen to you if, in your job, you claimed per diem for lodging one night but were actually at home and your boss found out ?? He or she would probably fire you, right ?? So why does Beavers get to do it ?? She's doing the same thing. On November 2nd, voters in Tennessee's 17th Senate District need to "Say Nay to Mae."
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1 comment:

Tired of Greedy Incumbents said...

Find this interesting since if she were a “state employee required to travel for work” (ie, auditor) she would be PROHIBITED from “overnight travel per diem” since her “temporary duty station” (ie, audit sight) is less than 50 miles from her home.

At least that was the rules when I worked for the State of TN