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Reality Check: Which Lawmakers Claim Most Per Diem?

Published On: Feb 07 2007 08:45:59 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 07 2007 09:48:10 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

Wisconsin taxpayers paid nearly $1 million for state lawmakers to be at the Capitol last year.

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Dane County legislators earn a $44-a-day per diem for showing up to work. Everyone else gets $88, WISC-TV reported.

The money is intended for food and housing while at work in Madison. But lawmakers don't have to show any receipts, and if they show up for just an hour, they can claim per diem.

A WISC-TV analysis found that the 10 lawmakers who claimed the most per diem includes of five Republicans and five Democrats.

As far as the bottom three, Republican Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Democratic Sens. Russ Decker and Judy Robson all collected $11,792.

Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter took in $11,880. Assemblyman Jeff Fitzgerald, a Republican, collected just more than $12,000.

Republican Sen. Neal Kedzie's bill to taxpayers was $12,144.

Democratic Sen. Roger Breske took in about $12,500.

Republican Steve Freeze was voted out of office in the Assembly, but his per diem added up to $12,672 last year.

Rep. Gregg Underheim gave up his seat, but the Republican claimed just under $13,000 in 2006.

And No. 1 on the list is Democrat Marlin Schneider, of Wisconsin Rapids. The longest serving member of the Assembly raked in $13,640 last year.

All of this is in addition to a salary of about $45,000 a year, WISC-TV reported.

It's also worth noting that Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach claimed the most days, 234, but since he's from Dane County, his reimbursement is only half the normal rate. He claimed $10,296, WISC-TV reported.

Only six states don't have a per diem on housing allowances for lawmakers -- Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island pay only a salary.

So who was the cheapest on taxpayers?

Convicted former speaker Scott Jensen claimed just 14 per diem days. He was on trial for misconduct in office and resigned midway through his term.

Otherwise, Democrat Sheldon Wasserman put in for $2,400 worth of per diems.

Lawmakers also get some reimbursements for driving to and from the Capitol. For per diems alone, the total bill was $950,000 last year.

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