Although it originated on the other side of the state Capitol, state senators took notice of the recent arrest of Democratic former state Rep. Margo Davidson of Chester County.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican, has announced a rules change to counter the problem, common to both chambers, that created the culture underlying Davidson’s conduct.

She admitted taking expense reimbursements for expenses that she did not actually incur, which is possible only because legislative rules provide for daily expense payments of nearly $200 per day and do not require lawmakers to file receipts. Atop that is a near-total lack of mandated transparency, although some lawmakers, to their credit, diligently report their expenses on their own websites.

Corman has announced the impending creation of a new website that, beginning next week, will post senators’ spending on office leases, per diems, reimbursements, supplies, mileage, office maintenance and other costs.

It is not yet clear whether the site will be searchable by senator, or the amount of detail that will be available. Simply reporting a per diem amount, for example, doesn’t inform taxpayers of how their money actually was spent.

Corman’s plan is progress but it’s telling that the development creates just a minimum standard for transparency.

Legislators in both houses should eliminate daily flat-rate expense payments for specifically documented expense reimbursements, and update the reporting more frequently than the once-per-month envisioned by Corman.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.