Some New Mexico lawmakers have been attending Statehouse classes just about, from dwelling, as an alternative of in individual – however are nonetheless pocketing the per diem money supposed to cowl journey bills, in accordance with a report.
“I feel it’s essential for the taxpayer to know that, frankly,” Jim Dines, a former state lawmaker, informed KRQE-TV of Albuquerque.
Republican state Sen. Craig Brandt stated any lawmaker who doesn’t journey to a Statehouse session ought to decline that day’s journey cash.
“It’s required within the Structure to pay the legislators per diem,” Brandt informed the station. “It’s not required that the legislator accepts it.
“It’s an enormous value to the taxpayers,” Brandt continued, “that [some lawmakers are] actually sitting at dwelling and never being up right here and nonetheless getting paid to be right here.”
IRS information means that New Mexico’s state lawmakers common about $10,000 in per-diem revenue for a 60-day legislative session, with the whole value to taxpayers reaching about $1.2 million, KRQE reported.
Precisely what number of lawmakers have been staying dwelling was unclear as a result of no monitoring system was put in place for the non permanent coronavirus-related setup, the report stated.
However Democratic state Rep. Angelica Rubio famous that New Mexico is the one one of many 50 states that doesn’t pay its lawmakers a wage – so the per diem cash is the one compensation they obtain for his or her legislative duties.
Rubio informed KRQE she had no reservations about maintaining the money regardless of working from dwelling in Las Cruces as an alternative of touring to the capital of Santa Fe.
“I’ve older mother and father who have been in danger, and I didn’t need to be wherever close to the petri dish that’s the Roundhouse,” she stated, utilizing the acquainted title for New Mexico’s Statehouse.
Rubio has sponsored a invoice to provoke salaries for lawmakers, the station famous, including that her invoice handed within the Home and in a Senate committee however was unlikely to achieve the Senate ground earlier than the present session ends Saturday.
Use of taxpayer cash by public officers in New Mexico beforehand got here below scrutiny in February, when the Santa Fe New Mexican printed particulars about discretionary spending by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The governor spent about $13,500 over a six-month interval in 2020 on bills equivalent to dry cleansing, groceries and alcohol, the report stated.
The identical report famous that Grisham was internet hosting in-person employees conferences on the governor’s mansion regardless of advising state residents in opposition to blended gatherings amid the pandemic.