Legislators cheat taxpayers by padding their pensions with mileage reimbursements. They should stop feathering their retirement nests this way. It’s unfair to ask constituents to pay for perks most don’t get themselves. And it’s wrong for legislators to get such perks while the state is in financial crisis.
Courant columnist Kevin Rennie has railed against this freebie for years as a former Republican state senator who never claimed mileage reimbursements. Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst took up the torch recently, looking at the mileage reports of a handful of Democratic senators. (It should be noted that legislators on both sides of the aisle have taken advantage of this fringe benefit.) Mr. Herbst found that Sen. Joseph Crisco Jr. had been reimbursed more than $105,681 over a decade before losing his re-election bid last November.
Democrats are now asking whether Mr. Herbst misused town resources by making the mileage records request on town letterhead and through town email, says the Connecticut Post. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, one of Mr. Herbst’s targets, got personal. “Tim Herbst becoming unhinged,” he tweeted on Dec. 22, and a little later, “Doing this on the town’s clock or is this a lunch break?” Mr. Herbst, in turn, got mildly profane: “My taxpayers are pissed that you Hartford elitists get away with this BS!”
Like Mr. Rennie has for years, Mr. Herbst does raise needed questions about this state perk (which we hope he researched on his lunch break). In a state deep in debt and facing overwhelming pension obligations, should legislators be feeding at the public trough this way?
According to a USA Today story from 2011, “Connecticut lawmakers can increase their pensions up to 50 percent by including mileage reimbursements that add as much as $15,500 a year to the salaries used to calculate their pensions.”