By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers in May collected more than $156,500 in per diem, with Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, leading the pack.
Per diem is a part of lawmakers’ overall compensation and is included in the state constitution under a provision allowing members of the General Assembly to be paid for mileage. The payment totals are based on IRS reimbursement amounts for daily expenses and travel.
Any lawmaker who lives more than 50 miles from Harrisburg is allowed to request a per diem for any day they claim to be working on legislative business. The payments are issued in addition to lawmaker salaries, $83,000 or more annually.
Lawmakers can also turn in receipts related to traveling to Harrisburg or other legislative business.
Presented without commentary or analysis, what follows is the top-10 per diem recipients in May, looking at a combined list from both chambers. All figures are from the chief clerks of the House and Senate, obtained by PA Independent through the Right-to-Know Law.
1. Rep. Mark Longietti, D -Mercer: $2,897
2. Rep. Dominic Costa, D-Allegheny: $2,598
3. Rep. Christopher Sainato, D-Lawrence: $2,539
4. Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Westmoreland: $2,487
5. Sen. Sean Wiley, D-Erie: $2,226
6. Rep. Nick Kotik, D-Allegheny: $2,213
7. Rep. Thomas Catlagirone, D-Berks; Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-Lawrence: $2,109 (tie)
9. Rep. Michael McGeehan, D-Philadelphia $2,008
10. Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny $1,949
Lawmakers can claim per diem up to 90 days after the expenses are incurred, so per diem paid in May could include expenses from March and April. Expenses for May could be filed for reimbursement throughout the summer.
Spring’s a busy time in the capital, with lawmakers coming to Harrisburg for state budget negotiations and bills. Yet per diem collection was still down from April.
A few other points of interest:
- In May, 141 of 203 members in the House collected a total of $126,537 in per diem.
- In the Senate, 28 out of 50 members claimed per diem in May, totaling $30,042.
- The House held nine session days in April, and six in May, one of which was non-voting. The Senate held eight session days in April and seven in May.
- In total, 75 members of the General Assembly claimed more than $1,000 in per diem, nine surpassing the $2,000 mark.
- Sen. Sean Wiley, D-Erie, was the only senator in this month’s top 10. If looking solely at the House, Rep. Dick Hess, R-Bedford, would have made the list.
Contact Melissa Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org