Matt Rothschild

Senators Want 31% Hike In Expenses

Republicans want per diem pay raise, but oppose minimum wage increase for state workers.

By - Feb 3rd, 2017 10:15 am
Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

The Republican-held state Senate is looking at a 31 percent hike in the daily expense allowance (called per diems) they can claim when working in Madison.

The current expense allowance lets most state senators claim up to $88 each day in addition to their $50,950 yearly salary. Senators who live in Dane County may only claim up to $44 a day when on state business.

Senate leaders are interested in hiking the maximum allowance to $115 a day this year.

Last year, state senators claimed a total of nearly $201,000 in per diems, led by GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, who claimed about $14,300. The expense allowance is meant to cover travel, lodging and meals. Senators may claim the entire allowable amount without submitting receipts for their expense, and pocket any difference left over.

Unlike regular legislative policy and spending proposals that require approval from the entire 33-member Senate, a per diem increase would only need a vote from the five-member Senate Organization Committee, which has three Republican and two Democratic leaders on it.

The Assembly increased its per diems, which also used to be $88 a day, in 2015. Currently, Assembly representatives may claim up to $69 for a single day in Madison, and up to $138 when they stay overnight. Assembly members may claim per diems for up to 153 days in a year. Last year, Assembly representatives claimed a total of about $484,500 in expenses, led by Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca, of Kenosha, who claimed about $9,600.

Both the Assembly and Senate, which have been controlled by Republicans since 2010, have routinely opposed proposals to increase the minimum wage and supported plans to tighten requirements for food stamps and other state aid for the poor.

Matthew Rothschild is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Categories: Politics

18 thoughts on “Senators Want 31% Hike In Expenses”

  1. myfivecents says:

    That’s crazy. A person who works for minimum wage doesn’t even make $88 a day, and we do not have inflation. I don’t see you giving state employees, with the exception of a few, any substantial raise in pay. Most got 1% if they were lucky, and some got nothing. There is no reason stated in the story for why you are even asking for an increase. What with all the money you are costing taxpayers for lawyers to fight your unlawful redistricting so that you can keep on picking your voters, you should have to give up part of your current per diem to pay them rather than sticking the taxpayers with the entire bill once again

  2. Michael Schwister says:

    A raise for me and none for thee. We are “conservatives”.

  3. Nancy says:

    They should be under the same rules as state employees, when traveling.

  4. Nancy D says:

    They should be under the same rules as all state employees. This includes mileage for overnights would require many senators NO overnights on the tax payers dime. And for transparency receipts for all expenses.

  5. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    SS recipients have not had raise for years.

  6. myfivecents says:

    WCD: And, the increase SS and disability recipients got this year went right back to pay for a monthly increase in Medicare payments. For someone who was paying $104 per month to Medicare and got a $4 a month increase in SS, Medicare costs went up to $108 negating the SS increase. In effect they did not get an increase at all. Plus costs for prescriptions went up too. There was zero increase the previous year either even though utility costs rise every year along with food and prescription expenses. What exactly do they use to calculate inflation anyway. It sure isn’t all costs involved with living in the U.S. is it. Rents and taxes continue to increase also. Yes, Retirees on SS pay income taxes.

  7. Tony Muhammad says:

    This is no more outrageous than on Capitol Hill in Washington where Congress (Repubs and Dems) raise their salaries (Perhaps 5 times over the course of 15 years) while voting down increasing the Federal Minimum Wage (to a projected $15.00 hr livable wage) the past 8 years.

    Basically, if you are not a professional politician (Or so-called representative of “We the People,”) with the power to increase your salaries at will, you/we just have to make ends meet when the Eagle’s Fly on Friday’s.

    Politicians, never mention cutting their salaries (lifelong into retirement) and benefits whenever budgets cuts are discussed in the halls of legislation.

    American common people have had it they are tired and can’t take no more this is one of many reasons why and how a racist “svengali” (My adopted new word this week) and his cabal of svengalis now sit at the helm of the Oval Office.

  8. blurondo says:

    Here are the members of the Senate Organization Committee:

    Senator S. Fitzgerald (Chair) (608) 266-5660
    Senator Roth (608) 266-0718
    Senator Vukmir (608) 266-2512
    Senator Shilling (608) 266-5490
    Senator Bewley (608) 266-3510

    Whether these are your senators or not, let these elected representatives hear from you often and loudly. Put each of their numbers on speed dial. Call often enough that when the aides in the office answer, they’ll address you by your first name. Remember that the people ARE the government.

  9. Daddy2Girls says:

    And here I thought it was those greedy public school teachers causing all the budgetary problems in the state?

  10. Ben says:

    Social Security – what a joke – another political handout.

    It’s a pyramid scheme created by Ponzi-artist, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    Imagine if you, whoever is reading this, could have kept your (currently) 6.2% payments PER YEAR. I certainly trust my own money management over the government.

    And then there is this:
    Well more than half — maybe three-quarters — of U.S. households pay more in Social Security taxes than in federal income taxes.

    …I know I am not the norm of the American population — I deposit approximately 7% of my income into my future retirement, and have been doing so since I was 20 years old.

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    I agree Ben. We are way too nice to old people in this country. Let them suffer or get a damn job. I wish the death panels were real. They can’t drive and they never shut up during movies. And to add insult to injury they get a handout via Social Security. Take ’em behind the shed and get it over with. Ben you are a prophet of the truth. So glad you started posting here.

  12. Ben says:

    @Michael Schwister

    “A raise for me and none for thee. We are “conservatives”.”

    I don’t think Peter Barca and the other liberals would appreciate being called a conservative.

  13. Tim says:

    Ben, can you show me what you’re talking about? Where is Peter Barca asking for a raise?

  14. Ben says:


    Peter Barca already approved his own raise in 2015.

    Jan 8, 2015
    Assembly panel approves per diem hike for overnight stays

    The Assembly Committee on Organization unanimously approved the increase….

    The members of the Assembly organization committee are:….Reps. Peter Barca of Kenosha…

  15. Tom D says:

    Ben (post 10),

    Don’t believe the right-wing propaganda about Social Security being a worse deal than investing that money yourself, ESPECIALLY for lower-income workers (those people you mentioned who pay more in SS taxes than in federal income tax).

    For example, a man with a lousy job who consistently earns 50% of the government’s “Average Wage” would need a mutual fund with a 10% return (year-in and year-out) to equal what he will get from Social Security in lifetime pension ALONE (not counting the value of the life- and disability- insurance built into Social Security).

    This also doesn’t count the fact that his wife would be entitled to an ADDITIONAL payment of about 50% of HIS pension (even if she never earned a penny in wages during her lifetime).


    Husband and wife were born in January, 1950
    Husband worked 46 years (1970 through 2015)
    Husband earned 50% of AW each year (e.g. $3,093 in 1970, $24,049 in 2015)
    Husband and wife began collecting Social Security in Feb 2016 at age 66
    Husband invests amount equal to his SS withholding tax in an untaxed account like an IRA (if the account were taxed, he would need even a higher return to come out ahead)

  16. Tim says:

    Ben, do you think it should be raised again? What exactly is your point?

  17. jessica says:

    I would find this acceptable if the rules are changed and they are required to provide receipts for their expenses. Under the current system, they can claim the maximum every day, and never prove it.

  18. happyjack27 says:

    “…under the change proposed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).”

    Looks like Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) asking for a raise.

    The committee had 5 reps and 3 dems. All 8 approved.

    Okay, well 3 dems where at the very least complicit, in that they approved the raise (their vote didn’t really matters, as they were outnumbered).

    Now let’s look at the evidence you provided for the other half of the claim; “and none for thee”:

    oh wait, you didn’t provide any.

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