Providing cars to California legislators ended and switched to a mileage-based reimbursement system in 2011. And even though the legislators protested, arguing that doing so would raise costs, the switch has actually saved hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
An analysis from the Sacramento Bee found that the state Senate and Assembly spent nearly $750,000 on mileage from 2015-2016, paying members 53 cents per mile when they took their personal cars out on business.
That's almost half of the $1.4 million it cost during the 2009-2010 session to pay for car leases, maintenance, and gas.
Costs are down, but it's still a small amount compared to the Legislature's full budget which includes:
- Salaries and benefits for thousands of employees
- Office supplies
- Other services
Just last year alone the Senate and the Assembly spent $246.8 million, up about 14% from 2010.
Taxpayers paid for legislators cars for decades. The 40 Senators and 80 Assembly members could choose their own car. Some picked modest sedans, while others went crazy and picked SUVs worth about $48,500 each.
The state paid for gas, insurance, maintenance costs, and the remainder of the lease. For lawmakers who represent large areas or have to drive long distances to Sacramento, the payouts are high.
9 members sought more than $20,000 in reimbursements during the 2015-2016 session. At the top of that group were Assembly members Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) and Matt Dababneh (D-Los Angeles), who both claimed more than $30,000.