Per diems, and other Monday links

The Scranton Times-Tribune does some digging, and turns up several northeastern lawmakers who collect state-funded lodging reimbursements, despite owning homes in Harrisburg. That includes Rep. Jim Wansacz, who collected more than $6,000 in per diems between July and October of last year. “It’s not like a great house,” he told the paper. “It’s a place where I sleep.”

When he first took office in June 2000, Mr. Wansacz said he routinely stayed at hotels and later switched to a “terrible one-room apartment,” he said. Taxpayers would have to pay more, if he submitted actual expenses for hotels and meals, he said.

“I can stay at the Hilton,” he said.

When it was pointed out he could also stay at a Red Roof Inn, he responded: “Would you want to stay four days a week in a place that’s going to be $20 a night and is disgusting?” He quickly noted he did not mean to disparage the Red Roof Inn.

Majority Leader Todd Eachus also owns a Harrisburg home, but still collected more than $10,000 in per diems during last year’s budget impasse. Spokesman Brett Marcy told the paper, “What you are getting at is whether this is permissible. …The next question is whether it’s right. We meet the threshold of whether it is permissible. He’s following the rules.”

In case you missed it, Governor Rendell appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” yesterday. He talked stimulus and economy, notably telling host Terry Moran that President Obama dropped the ball last year, when it came to effectively selling his agenda to the American people. “The best communicator in the history of political campaigning turned out in his first year in office to not communicate very well,” he said.

The Inky explains what happens if the Feds don’t approve I-80 tolling.

And the Veon enters its fourth week today. Catch all the courtroom drama from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Tracy Mauriello, who continues to live-Tweet the proceedings.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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