Lawmakers decide to stop hitting up taxpayers for food when sessions run long. Instead they’ll pay $2,000 a year to keep themselves fueled.

By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
November 9, 2011

Reporting from Sacramento— Under fire for spending $111,316 in taxpayer funds to feed themselves this year, state senators have decided to end the practice.

All members of the upper house will be billed $2,000 a year to pay for stocking the coffee room and to cover their meal expenses when sessions extend into the lunch or dinner hour, said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

The five-member Senate Rules Committee, which Steinberg chairs, voted Tuesday to implement the new system.

“It has been a long tradition in the Senate that our coffee room provides snacks for members on session days and meals in situations where the Senate remains in session over normal dining hours,” Steinberg wrote in a memo to his colleagues. “However, not all traditions can or should be maintained indefinitely,” he wrote. “Our institutional practices should reflect our best judgment as times and circumstances change.”

The Times reported Sunday that in addition to the public money the Senate has spent on food this year, taxpayers picked up the tab last year for more than $23,000 worth of meals during a 115-day budget standoff. An additional $2,900 a month paid for granola, yogurt, fresh fruit and sweet snacks during the impasse, according to a review of Senate receipts.

This year’s expenditures were 10% more than last year’s, even as lawmakers approved a 6% cut in the budget for services to Californians.

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