Wisconsin lawmakers make a pretty good salary. About $51,000 a year. Not bad for only having to work a few days of the year given the recently light legislative calendar. In addition to their salary, our state representatives and senators can also claim a per-diem, covering their expenses for meals and lodging while working in Madison. Turns out that can add up quickly. Wisconsin taxpayers spent just shy of $800,000 last year to keep our lawmakers housed and fed. The average payment per lawmaker was about $6000. But nine lawmakers earned more than $10,000 in reimbursements But the system remains ripe for abuse. One of the highest payments went to longtime Madison state Senator Fred Risser. He claimed per-diems on 232 days, far more than any other lawmaker, despite living directly across the street from the state Capitol. He is presumably sleeping in his own bed, and could walk home for lunch, but still claimed expenses for meals and lodging. The worst part of Wisconsin’s per-diem system is that it is on the honor system. Lawmakers don’t have to submit receipts to prove they incurred the expenses. And unlike other state employees, our representatives can pocket any part of their payments that don’t go toward their expenses. This system needs to change. Lawmakers should be forced to show receipts for their expenses, and be allowed to only claim reimbursement for what they actually spent.