Thursday, July 24, 2008

You Know We're In Trouble When Congress Does It Better

Politico has a piece today exploring the wide world of congressional office expenditures, from a few hundred dollars spent on a specialty cleaning service, to a few thousand for flat screen TVs, to over a hundred thousand spent on constituent mailings.

This arguably unnecessary spending may make your blood boil, but we would note this paragraph:

For 2008, the House Administration Committee allocated each lawmaker a standard budget of $874,951. But members get an additional amount that’s tied to the distance between Washington and the farthest point in their districts — as measured on a Rand McNally map — and the relative cost of real estate back home.

Makes sense, right? All members get the same base allocation, plus travel expenses based on distance, plus an allocation for rent based on costs in the member's home district.

Contrast that with New York's legislator allocations based on partisan affiliation and loyalty to party leadership. The result of New York's inequitable system is very simple: if you and your neighbors choose to elect a maverick or a member of the minority party, your representative will have less staff and resources to look out for your interests and provide constituent services to your district.

New Yorkers should demand basic fairness in allocation of legislative resources, which, after all, come out of the taxpayer pool we all contribute to.

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