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Stop! Thief! State legislators feed twice at the taxpayer trough

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Sunday, June 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

State records compiled by the Trib show the notion of Pennsylvania lawmakers as gluttonous hogs gorging at the public trough isn't just colorful imagery but appallingly close to the literal truth — at least during budget “crunch time” each June.

During a five-day period as last year's June 30 budget deadline approached and legislators worked long, late hours at the Capitol, House leaders spent $64,000 on catered meals — while members also claimed $105,000 in unaccountable per diems that are supposed to cover their food and lodging. Talk about leaving a foul taste in taxpayers' mouths.

And let's call this what it is — thievery.

These legislative “second helpings” have become an outrageous annual binge: In June 2011, House leaders stuck the public with a $23,000 catering tab while members devoured nearly $60,000 in per diems. Expect this year's budget-crunch food fest to cost even more than last year's.

These binges' costs and lack of accountability — clear abuses of the public purse — rightly stick in taxpayers' craws, especially as many Pennsylvanians struggle daily to make ends meet.

This double-dipping of legislative snouts is emblematic of Harrisburg's ravenous appetite for spending without regard for fiscal prudence, transparency or simply doing what's right. So long as it continues, Pennsylvania will remain the Commonwealth of Corruption.

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