State Government

Lawmakers claim $218K at-home expenses

By Guy Page

Through February 19, Vermont lawmakers have claimed $218,144 in the $75 per diem permitted for at-home expenses.

Total expense reimbursements are lower than last year, due to greatly reduced travel expenses.

Legislators are entitled  to ‘Stay At Home Expense Reimbursement’ of up to $75 dollars per day, according to information provided by the office of the Speaker of the House (see graph below). The information states that “this reimbursement is available to legislators to cover expenses incurred by working from home doing work with constituents and committee work.”

As the graph shows, legislators also are entitled to travel and meals expenses, in addition to their $742/week in-session pay. However, the need for travel and eating outside of the home has greatly diminished since last spring, when the Legislature opted to hold  ‘virtual’ committee and full House and Senate meetings due to pandemic concerns and restrictions. Since then, lawmakers have typically stayed home and connected via the internet. 

While in session from January until late Spring, The full Legislature typically meets four days a week, Tuesday – Friday. The 2021 Legislature convened Wednesday, January 6 and has met 27 times through today, according to House Journal records. (Occasionally, some committees also meet on Mondays.) 

If all 180 lawmakers claimed the full $75 expense for all 27 days, the reimbursement would be $364,500. Officials figures provided to Vermont Daily this morning show that about 60% of that amount  has been claimed. 

“I ran a query in our accounting system and according to expenses reports posted through this morning (2/19/21) for the 2021 legislature session – $218,144 [for the at-home per diem] is the total spent so far,” said Joe Harris, who handles public information requests for the Vermont Department of Finance and Management. 

Total expenses claimed this year are far lower than last year.  Total reimbursements from 1/1/2021 – 2/19/2021 (including the $75 per diem) is $232,042.67.  For that same time period in 2020 it was $777,955.24.

The guidelines below do list specific permissible at-home expense items. Nationwide, at-home work expenses for state employees resemble permitted IRS expenses for home offices including cellphone usage, internet costs, paper and printer ink, and partial utility costs.

Vermont Legislative ReimbursementAmountNotes
Weekly Salary$742.92 per weekOnly available during the legislative session. The typical legislative session runs 16-18 weeks.
Mileage Reimbursement.56 cents per mileThis is the federal rate. Legislators submit a mileage reimbursement expense form and it is only available for traveling to Montpelier during the legislative session or to certain committee meetings. 
Lodging AllowanceUp to $127 per dayOnly available to those renting an apartment or staying at a hotel in Montpelier. Only available  during the legislative session.
Meals AllowanceUp to $66 per day 
Stay At Home Expense ReimbursementUp to $75 dollars per dayThis reimbursement is available to legislators to cover expenses incurred by working from home doing work with constituents and committee work.

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  1. This video is beyond comprehension – it is evil, it is immoral and it certainly is criminal! UVM Medical Center…

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6 replies »

  1. It would be interesting to know how many solons maxed out their $75 cap on expense reimbursement. Do expenses need to be itemized?

    • i don’t know. i do know that total expenses are down over last year, because of very low travel expenses. for whatever that is worth. it’s a complicated issue. they work hard. they’re not well paid. on the other hand, there are other perks and competition is stiff.

  2. These folks will take taxpayer money until the proverbial Vermont cows come home. So, I’m curious to know how long voters will tolerate this graft given the performance and outcomes they receive from these so-called ‘representatives’. If it were up to me, I’d say:

    ‘You’re Fired’.

  3. These are the expectations of people who are used to being treated like they are just this entitled. I worked in Montpelier for 15 years, and every January if memory serves me correctly 220 State employees get kicked out of their parking lots to make room for legislators, and their staff. Commissioners, The regular state employees are expected to park at, and take a shuttle bus from the DOL building to their offices. During Leg. session Secretaries, Commissioners, and others are so consumed with answering to the legislator’s every whim that they are on a knife’s edge with stress, worried that they may say or do something that could effect their budget ,or their position. I always expressed it this way, “Montpelier is schizophrenic, when legislature is in session, it’s just no fun. When they go home, life is good ! The way I see it, if you treat someone like royalty, after a while they’ll expect it. So who is to blame for them expecting the merely unreasonable ?

  4. These are the expectations of people who are used to being treated like they are just this entitled. I worked in Montpelier for 15 years, and every January if memory serves me correctly 220 State employees get kicked out of their parking lots to make room for legislators, and their staff. The regular state employees are expected to park at, and take a shuttle bus from the DOL building to their offices. During Leg. session Secretaries, Commissioners, and others are so consumed with answering to the legislator’s every whim that they are on a knife’s edge with stress, worried that they may say or do something that could effect their budget ,or their position. I always expressed it this way, “Montpelier is schizophrenic, when legislature is in session, it’s just no fun. When they go home, life is good ! The way I see it, if you treat someone like royalty, after a while they’ll expect it. So who is to blame for them expecting the merely unreasonable ?
    Sorry, Cut and paste got the best of me! I had to edit out “Commissioner” from after the 1st sentence.

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