State legislative per diems and mileage

Kyle Maichle from Wisconsin Election Watch popped up a database on legislative pier diems and mileage this week. It is interesting to see who takes what out of the state coffers. Not all draws are equal. Distance from Madison counts as does time spent behind a Capitol desk. Some must carpool. Others may not bother to take the reimbursement.

It’s nothing personal, but only by the luck of him being my Assemblyman, I’ll pick on Dale Kooyenga again:

2013 per diem: 109 days for $9,592. That lands him in 32nd place on Maichle’s list.

2013 mileage: $3,119.16.

Wisconsin Assembly members make $49,943.00 for the 2013-2014 session. In addition, some Wisconsin politicians do better than others at living out of their campaign accounts.

Not bad work if you can get it. The per diem indicates 109 days of Madison business. Sure there’s keeping up with your constituency at home (well, not my home, as he’s never been by the house) but you know what? Part-time work with full time pay ain’t bad.

Hey Wisconsin, is that what you mean to do? In a month where Governor Scott Walker is touting your family’s likely tax savings of $150, it appears the true Blueprint to Prosperity is to get yourself elected. For a little perspective, let me share that the state’s median income for a one-earner family is $43,661 according to this DOJ document.

Huzzah, you daring legislators, you. Don’t spend it all in one place.


  1. I’m admittedly a big Dale fan, so perhaps I’m being defensive here, but I’m a little confused how $70 for internet, a portion of cell phone expenses, and some $2 coffees constitutes (oh, and $0 in transportation expenses) constitutes “living out of ones campaign account”.

    You make it sound like he’s paying his mortgage off or something.

  2. old baldy says:

    The poster child for per diem abuse is/was former assembly speaker John Gard (R-Sun Prairie). He was elected to represent NE WI, yet lived and owned a house in Sun Prairie. That was brought to light numerous times yet no changes were made to the system to avoid those abuses in the future.

  3. Ryan, you are defensive. At the time I gave other examples. Still, the money from the acount is available to a politician. He uses it to pay for the same internet connection his family uses. Efficient? Yes. A supplement to his income? Yes.

  4. What kind of legislator do you get for $50K a year? If you are too cheap you won’t get the good ones. If you pay too much you get the greedy. I would like to be in the legislature but I cannot convince my boss to let me be a legislator and an employee. That means I have to have an alternative source of income if I want to run or else give up the lifestyle I earned in my current career. One makes choices and lives with them.

  5. Then why not say “supplementing his income”, or even more precisely “supplementing his income in an entirely legal way by a quite small percentage” rather than “living out of his campaign account”?

    When you use your phrase, it creates the impression of something like this: