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As I See It

Wisconsin lawmakers continue to cash in on per diems



It’s pretty good work if you can get it. Members of the Wisconsin Legislature are considered full-time, yet work less than a part-time schedule. Members of the Assembly and Senate have packed it in for 2024, with no plans to return to Madison on official business for the rest of the year. They draw a nice salary, more than $57,000 per year, get an office, a staff, a pension and plenty of perks. They also get a per diem, a reimbursement for what they spend on food and lodging while in Madison doing the people’s business. And as it turns out, those numbers can add up pretty quickly. They can claim up to $155 for an overnight trip to Madison from their home districts, and up to $77 for day trips. The biggest per diem check in 2023, more than $19,000, went to a legislator from Madison. Among area lawmakers, Rep. Jill Billings claimed more than $8000 in per diems, while Rep. Steve Doyle claimed more than $4000. Senator Brad Pfaff claimed more than $12,000 in per diems. Lawmakers are also reimbursed for mileage whenever they travel to Madison, and don’t have to show receipts to be reimbursed. Where else but in politics can you accomplish the bare minimum, work part-time hours and get paid as well as Wisconsin lawmakers?

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Bob N.

    March 7, 2024 at 8:52 am

    Senator Pfaff leads our area reps because he likes to run all over and get his picture taken and get paid for it. We call him Senator Photo-Op.

  2. The Dude

    March 7, 2024 at 11:15 am

    Senator LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee claimed the most at $19,320 and can claim mileage for their trips to the Capitol separately from their per diem payments. These are over and above their salaries and benefits packages. Look up their health care and pensions. https://legis.wisconsin.gov/lhro/benefits/

    Make them work

  3. Kent Porter

    March 8, 2024 at 7:12 am

    They should have to punch in and out FULL time is 40 hours per week then they can pack a lunch rather then us buying them lunch , then they can pay their own health.dental and prescription insurance, that will WEED THEM OUT !!!!!!!!!!!

  4. R head

    March 8, 2024 at 8:54 am

    Do you claim your cost when you travel. You should eat that cost and stop being a dick

  5. Walden

    March 10, 2024 at 3:38 pm

    Interesting editorial coming from the Lib that wanted the Legislature to release a couple of billion $ of budget surplus without a detailed plan on where to spend it and another 100 million on PFAS again with no budget or plan for spending.

    Comments are being moderated on this website so hopefully this one get through.

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