Schoesler votes against ‘irresponsible’ hike in Senate’s daily-expense allowance

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-9By a 4-3 vote the state Senate Facilities and Operations Committee today supported a $30 increase in the amount senators may collect each day for expenses while the Legislature is in session. Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was among those to vote against boosting the per diem rate to $120. Also opposing the change were Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, who chairs the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. Schoesler offered this statement regarding the decision:

“I see no need for the Senate’s per diem rate to increase, even though the House of Representatives moved to $120 per day as of 2014. This decision sends the wrong message to taxpayers. Also, considering the Legislature has yet to grant pay increases to teachers and other state employees, it’s premature and irresponsible for this committee to approve a 33 percent increase in the per diem rate.

“The question of legislators’ expenses does need to be addressed – in the meantime, this rewards legislators whose homes are closer to the Capitol and are less likely to have housing-related expenses during a session than those who come from farther away, such as Republic or Spokane or Bellingham.

“I will continue to accept per diem at the $90 rate it’s been since I became a senator in 2005, and let others decide whether to pick more from the taxpayers’ pockets.”

The per diem rate for the Senate and House increased to $90, from $82, in 2005; the House rate increased to $100 for 2008 and 2009, then reverted to $90 in 2010.