Members of the Texas Legislature famously earn $600 per month, but with some added benefits – like a pension tied to the salary of full-time state district judges – that few mention back home. They also get paid $221 per day for expenses when in Austin… or just because the legislative session is going on.
This means lawmakers stand to collect $6,630 each month of a special session – even though many of them are not at the Capitol for the full 30 days.
Yesterday, we asked readers if they thought it should be considered theft for lawmakers to collect the full 30 days of special session per diem cash without having been present at the Capitol.
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Here is a sample of the responses we received from our readers after they voted in the survey.
“No work, no per diem. Punch a time clock with biometric verification in and out. When trust and position is abused, strong measures are required to remind them of who they work for. It ain’t the lobbyists.” – Mary Casper
“I do not believe it is ‘theft.’ It is certainly a sweet deal and self-serving as a minimum. Getting paid for special sessions, which are required because they did not do their job during the regular session, is a disincentive. I would suggest a better approach would be to collect $221/day as a penalty for every day there is a special session.” – Bob McCleskey
“When the Democrats fled Texas to D.C., they were paid for the regular session plus all the special sessions they missed. Before I retired, if I missed work, I didn’t get paid. Why are these people so SPECIAL they don’t even show up for work but still get paid?” – Danny Lee
“If they are not working, they should NOT get paid. They also need to remember who they represent —the people from their district, NOT their own interests.” – Debra Davis
“If that’s what the law currently states, then no, it is not theft. Maybe the law should be changed so that the taxpayers will not be bilked in a similar circumstance in the future.” – Dirk P DeKoch
“The ultimate slap in the face of the taxpayers: Do nothing and get paid anyway.” – Alan Smith
“Special sessions are the equivalent of having to stay after school to complete the work that should have been done during school hours.” – Thomas Camardo
“No work, no pay. PERIOD!” – Mary Matthews
“I’m on a fixed income, so it would be wonderful if I could get paid for just breathing but doing nothing else!!” – Hamila Hobson
“If these so-called lawmakers are not present & not voting, they should not get paid! Maybe if there were not so many ‘perks,’ there would be less abuse.“ – Susan Ivison
“I know from my work experience if I did not show up to punch the timecard, I would not get paid. Pull that too many times, I would get fired. Seems our legislators have forgotten they are public servants.” – John Newberry, Sr
“If state lawmakers cannot do their jobs during the regular session, they should be paying the citizens of Texas $221 per day for their ineptitude.” – Terry Fokas
“There’s no excuse for the excessive absences, five-day weekends, and general lack of representation of our priorities. There should have been no need for a special session; a lot of work should have (and could have) been done in the regular session.” – Karen Lane
“In the real world, that would be grounds for instant dismissal!” – Arthur McLean
“Who else gets paid regardless of if they show up for work or not? No one.” – Dana Krasinski
“They are like most politicians, they only think about their hard-earned graft money. They are not doing the people’s work.” – Danny Thomspon
“Since they did not get the job done during the regular session, they should not be paid at all to be called into a special session. Maybe this would give them a reason to get things done during the regular session.” – Eddie Oberreither
“The House has become a sham, voting against the Republican ideals, impeaching our AG, hiring an outrageous attorney at taxpayers’ expense, drinking alcohol on the job, not showing up for work but collecting more income for a job that should have been completed during the session. These are a travesty to the people who voted them into office and believed in them.” – Barbara McClure
“Sure they are stealing. Most are not representatives, they are parasites that are destroying their hosts.” – Brett Holman
“Funny, when I don’t show up for work or don’t perform my job, I don’t get paid.” – Arthur Potter
“These crooks should get paid like the rest of us. If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid.” – Dell Huddleston
“When I want to offer testimony during a legislative hearing, I have to be physically present at the Texas State Capitol in order to register for an opportunity to testify for two minutes. Requiring the same presence at the Capital for a $200 pay boost doesn’t seem too much to ask of our legislators.” – John Bolgiano
“Paying people while they are NOT working is one of the biggest reasons our economy is in the situation it currently finds itself.” – Charles Busbey
“Lawmakers should be entitled to receive per diem only on those days that they are physically absent overnight from their homes on official state business.” – Ken Marx
“My employer does not use taxpayer dollars to pay my salary and I’m only allowed paid time off when I have earned it!” – Cindy Kelley
“When reports of this first came out, I asked my House rep to address this specific issue. No response. You’d think she’d answer to those who enabled her to represent us. Why we tolerate abuses of our tax dollars is beyond me. When will Texans get recall power?” – Mark Juelg