Without taxpayer money, politicians don’t get paid. That goes for just about any state and government job, which is why taxpayers should always care where their hard-earned cash goes.
For instance, they might not be too crazy about teachers and professors getting full salaries on abbreviated virtual work schedules. And for some months, they weren’t working at all.
And New Mexico residents won’t be too happy about this news, either.
When the pandemic hit, lawmakers started attending Statehouse sessions from home, which obviously meant they didn’t have to travel into the city.
Typically, they receive a per diem payment for that expense: that’s right, they get cash to cover the travel cost of going from home to the Statehouse.
That might not be much of an issue normally. But in the eyes of many, when these politicians aren’t making that trip, they shouldn’t be receiving that per diem.
Except they have been getting it — and keeping it.
From Fox News:
Some New Mexico lawmakers have been attending Statehouse sessions virtually, from home, instead of in person – but are still pocketing the per diem cash intended to cover travel expenses, according to a report.
Some are already speaking out against this, including former state lawmaker Jim Dines. He told KRQE-TV of Albuquerque that “it’s important for the taxpayer to know.”
Republican state Sen. Craig Brandt went even further.
He told the station that in fact, this is a significant issue. And taxpayers are probably losing more than they think in this situation:
It’s required in the Constitution to pay the legislators per diem. It’s not required that the legislator accepts it.
It’s a huge cost to the taxpayers, that [some lawmakers are] literally sitting at home and not being up here and still getting paid to be here.
According to IRS statistics, New Mexico state lawmakers average about $10,000 in per-diem income for a 60-day legislative session.
This translates to a hefty cost of $1.2 million to the taxpayers of the state.
Now, it’s important to note that New Mexico is the only state that doesn’t offer a salary for its lawmakers, so the per diem cash is all they get.
Democratic State Rep. Angelica Rubio mentioned this, and said she had no problem keeping the money despite working from home.
This isn’t the first time spending by elected officials has come under fire in New Mexico, however.
Just last month, the Santa Fe New Mexican published an article citing discretionary spending by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
This is the story that really angered a lot of people, because Gov. Grisham allegedly spent around $13,500 of taxpayer money on groceries, dry cleaning and alcohol.
And now the state lawmakers are basically taking money for travel, without traveling. It’s yet another reason for New Mexico residents to start asking some serious questions.
- New Mexico politicians have been accepting per diem payments for travel expenses during the pandemic.
- But they’ve been attending Statehouse meetings from home, so there were no travel expenses.
- The per diem costs state taxpayers $1.2 million every year.
- This comes just after the news that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham allegedly spent $13,500 on groceries and alcohol.
Source: Fox News