It’s a harmless tradition, Texas lawmakers taking off a few hours to play football. Yes, they do it during the work-day and on your dime. Still, think of it this way: that’s one day they won’t be raiding the rainy day fund, sneaking into your pocket, or regulating your business.
Per our constitution, legislators get paid $600 per month, plus a per diem while in Austin. That extra cash comes ostensibly because legislators are at work in meetings, committee hearings or on the floor.
After making a brief appearance at the Capitol next Tuesday (Feb. 26), lawmakers will load up on buses and drive two hours to College Station, where you’ll be paying them to play football at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field.
The combined legislator per-diem for February 26? Approximately $22,000 for the 150 House members.
(One might wonder why they aren’t playing at the state-owned football stadium just a few blocks north of the Capitol at the University of Texas… but as an Aggie I can hardly blame them for not wanting to play there.)
We contacted the office of the legislator organizing the game—State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), a UT alumni—about the costs involved and whether or not the games would be open to the public. His chief of staff replied saying Texas A&M was responsible for the planning. (We have an information request going to A&M for that information. Let’s face it; the video alone would be a hoot!)
It’s tempting to criticize lawmakers for taking off a work-day to go play a game of flag football. Just consider… they could instead be playing games with your money under the Capitol’s pink dome.
So on careful reflection, we at TFR heartily endorse a flag football league for legislators—with the caveat that games only be played during the hours when they would otherwise be legislating.