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Wisconsin lawmakers claim $1.25 million in expenses

MADISON — Wisconsin state lawmakers claimed more than $1.25 million in daily allowances last year, a 6% decrease from the previous budget-writing year in 2017.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Thursday on the latest figures from members of the state Senate and Assembly. The payments can be claimed by lawmakers for daily expenses they accrue for work in the state Capitol. The payments are in addition to their annual salary of $52,999.

The payments cover the year in which the Republican-controlled Legislature debated and passed a state budget. It was also the first year of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ term, which was marked by the passage of fewer bills than when Republican Scott Walker worked with a GOP Legislature.

The top recipient between both state legislative chambers was Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who received $20,125 and spent 175 days in the Capitol. Other top recipients in the Senate included Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point, with $15,180 for 142 days, and Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, with $14,145 for 123 days in Madison.

Fitzgerald’s time spent in the Capitol in 2019 was topped only by Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, who clocked 208 days and received $10,400 in per diem payouts. Risser ranked 19th in per diem payouts in the Senate and 56th between the two chambers.

The cap for the daily allowance is $115 for Senate lawmakers who live outside of Dane County and $57.50 for those who live within the county.

In the Assembly, the top three recipients were Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel, with $17,415 and 130 days in Madison; budget committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, with $15,821 for 115 days; and Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, with $15,689 for 118 days.

Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, who is running for an open state Senate seat in November, spent the most time of the Assembly members in the Capitol, with 153 days for $12,393. That amount ranked 19th-highest in the Assembly.

In the Assembly, Dane County residents can claim $81 per day, while lawmakers from elsewhere can claim $162 per overnight stay.

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