Moderate describes the travel tabs for both local MLAs in the past six months, following release of their expenses this week.
NDP Michael Sather and Liberal Marc Dalton spent less than half the highest tab wracked up in the last six months. The distinction of spending the most went to the NDP’s Robin Austin, from the remote Skeena region, who spent $53,606 between April and September.
MLAs representing districts farthest from Victoria generally run up the highest expenses. Austin’s total includes $19,486 in “Speaker approved travel,” including a trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka in September to attend a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference.
By comparison, Sather (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) spent $17,585.
The amount includes a $6,000 accommodation allowance for staying in Victoria, daily meal allowances and general travel costs of $8,211.
When it comes to meals, politicians get an allowance for any breakfast, lunch or dinners they have in restaurants outside their ridings. That’s capped at $61 day, but receipts aren’t required.
Dalton, who represents Maple Ridge-Mission, spent $19,551 in that period. Maple Ridge-Mission is considered semi-urban and has a higher in-constituency travel allowance. That includes travel for the independent schools committee.
By comparison, Randy Hawes, (Abbotsford-Mission) spent almost $5,000 less than Dalton. Hawes’s total expenses rang in at $14,956.
At the low end of the scale, Advanced Education Minister John Yap (Richmond-Steveson), spent only $3,954, plus his expenses as a cabinet minister.
See Expenses, p5
Expenses from p4
The figures, however, didn’t show the details of where MLAs dined or stayed.
The impetus for revealing the expenses came from Audior-Gen. John Doyle’s report earlier this year, showing gaps in financial accountability of legislature expenses.
Doyle said in his audit of the legislature’s finances that the legislature is mired in “poor governance” with “substantial irregularities” in financial reporting, such as not preparing proper monthly bank statements.
When it comes to paying MLAs for their travel expenses, the legislature was “consistently unable” to give documentation supporting MLA travel expense claims, the auditor said.
But Dalton said previously that he has to submit all travel expenses before he gets reimbursed.
“You don’t get your payment unless you submit the forms.”
MLA salaries and expenses for fiscal year ending March 31:
• Marc Dalton, Maple Ridge-Mission:
Salary: $102,138, Victoria living allowance: $16,372, Travel expenses: $19,573
• Michael Sather, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows:
Salary: $102,138, Victoria living allowance: $14,121, Travel expenses: $18,236