STAFF EDITORIAL: Legislature spending too much, should conserve like rest of state
The Wisconsin Legislature needs to stop and think of themselves for a moment. They are making severe budget cuts all over the state, including education, but when it comes to their own turf it is apparent they have not made cuts that easily could be made. In just nine months the cost to run the state legislature went up 8.7 percent in this budget year, according to State Department of Administration records.
They need to take a step back and re-examine their own spending. Sen. David Zien, R-Eau Claire, reported that he drove 63,818 miles on official business last year. He was reimbursed $19,430, which comes out to $1,619 a month. His job requires him to travel a lot, but there should be a spending cap for travel.
The total amount Wisconsin legislators claimed last year was $2.1 million in on-the-job expenses. That is outrageous. If they can force the UW System to limit travel, they surely can make the same statement about their own kind.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, billed $9,358 in out-of-state trips to Hilton Head, S.C., San Francisco, Santa Fe, N.M. and Honolulu. One “mandatory” conference in one such location would be understandable, but four in one year is out of control. Taxpayers do not want to be paying for other people to go on vacation. That kind of spending is inexcusable.
In addition to flying to exotic locations, two legislators live far enough away from the capital that the only “logical” way to travel from their home to the capital is by commercial airline, which cost $47,892 between the two last years.
It is understandable that legislators need to travel, but so do other state employees, such as UW System workers, whose travel budget has been cut. It should not be too much to ask to have the same rules apply to all in a time of budget crisis.