Democrats in the Legislature often get blamed for causing ostensibly needless delays in the legislative process by insisting that bills actually be discussed in committee or on the floor. The implication is that these things have already been thoroughly discussed by nameless people in the the basement or in Speaker’s office and this is more than sufficient, so just vote and shut up.
Once, during a week of particularly bad legislation, I was approached by a Republican Legislator from Maricopa County. He said “Because of you Democrats, I missed dinner with my family tonight.” I said “Really? I’m from Tucson, I haven’t been home in three days.”
This tells you a little about the context of a proposal to increase legislative per diem and mileage allowances. Personally, I do not believe that this will happen because the debate over these things always gets stupid. Grandstanding buffoons argue that it is not really a problem, and that legislators should be happy with the low pay and the nearly non-existent perks of service. Other grandstanding bufoons dismiss the issue, using this as an excuse to criticize the legislature as a bunch of ignorant hacks, a jibe that may be well deserved, but is nonetheless irrelevant to this discussion.
In the past, some Maricopa legislators have expressed umbrage over the supposed unfairness of paying legislators from other counties a higher per diem. Not only is this yet another example of the general Maricopan cluelessness of Arizona geography but it is also an indication that they do not understand what a per diem is. In most work places, per diem is put in place to address the additional expenses of working out of town. Legislators from outside of Maricopa County face expenses that those from within the conurbation do not. These include luxuries such as food and a place to sleep.
I am not trying to whine about the supposed hardship of service in the legislature, as my friend Mike Stafford used to say, “if you don’t like it, try roofing…in the summer.” However, it is not unreasonable to ask folks to show a little sympathy for those who travel no inconsiderable distance in the service of their communities and to pay them something reasonable for their expenses.