Dear Editor:

To the state senators and representatives,

Thank you for discontinuing the printing and distribution of your annual calendars and the savings it'll provide for the state! It's a small step in conserving precious tax dollars; but it is an important step in the right direction. This action will save the state approximately $150,000 a year.

To assist you in your conservation efforts; I've another idea on how to save money and help plug our budget deficit. Maybe you could look into the more expensive item of per diems. In two months alone, last July and August (when you should have been home), your collective billing to the state's treasury exceeded $532,000. It's difficult to get an exact figure as you have a several month grace period to seek reimbursement. This should be corrected.

Having traveled extensively in sales, public relations and management for several national companies prior to retiring in 1995, I had to submit my expense accounts either weekly or bi-weekly. Receipts had to be provided for my actual expenses. Payment was prompt and corporate accounting was current.

No one, when traveling on government or corporate business, should have to pay out of pocket their incurred expenses. You have every right to request reimbursement of your expenses, actual expenses. Per diems are a form of additional (non-taxable) income for some of you.

As of October 1, 2009 your per diems went from $158 to $163 a day to cover meals and lodging. Last November I ran a survey of some of the over 100 hotels and motels in the Harrisburg area. At $179 a night and paying for breakfast, I would not be staying at the Hilton Harrisburg Hotel. You'll note there are better buys with breakfast included.

By now those of you who overnight probably have a favorite, reasonable location to stay. If not, north of the Governor's Mansion on N. Front Street is a Days Inn; $67 plus tax a night with breakfast included is a possibility, among others. At the current per diem rate of $163, this gives you roughly $90 for lunch and dinner. Sometimes you're provided both by the leadership or a lobbyist and can pocket the $90 tax free.

I know that some, possibly many of you do not accept per diems but submit actual expenses. Again, THANK YOU! One senator stays in a location where breakfast and dinner is provided. For 35 days of overnights, the senator's actual expenses were $2,083 (less than $60 per day). Had per diems been requested, $5,500 would have been paid. The senator saved the taxpayers $3,417. Good job! It can be done. It should be done.

It's time we run government like we do our homes and businesses. When funds are low we reduce our expenditures. There are expenses that cannot be reduced; but as we learned with the calendars, there are areas to save money – like the elimination of per diems for another savings. Prompt payment of actual expenses would free up many thousands of needed dollars to reduce our deficits. Thank you for your consideration!

Bill McIntyre

398 North 17th Street

Camp Hill, PA 17011-3905 [1]