By the Numbers: $2,376
California’s 120 state lawmakers cost taxpayers a pretty penny to keep on the payroll: six-figures apiece in annual salary plus benefits. But the vast majority of legislators pad their pay with $176 in per diem compensation for lodging and food—perks virtually nonexistent in the private sector—even on days they don’t show up to work.
Last week, the Associated Press published a list that shows how much per diem each state senator and assembly member collected on days they were absent in the latest legislative session. Among Bay Area-based members of the state Legislature, the worst offender—by far—was Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose). From December 2014 to August this year, she collected $2,376 over 20 absences.
Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) claimed $1,106 for six days he skipped work. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) took $344 over four missed days while state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) pocketed $176 for two days off. Only two South Bay lawmakers refused to collect per diem payments for days they didn’t work.
State Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), who is facing a re-election challenge from Campos, and Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) both missed a single workday and charged taxpayers nothing for their no-shows. Beall spokesman Rodney Foo said the reasoning is simple. “If you don’t work, you shouldn’t get paid,” he said of his employer’s philosophy. “He adheres to that. That’s always been his policy.”
Below is a list of local lawmakers and how much they collected in per diem pay, according to the report. To view the list of all 120 legislators, click here.
Jim Beall (D-San Jose)—one absence, $0
Nora Campos (D-San Jose)—20 absences, $2,376
Kansen Chu (D-San Jose)—six absences, $1,106
Evan Low (D-Campbell)—four absences, $344
Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont)—two absences, $176
Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park)—one absence, $0