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Florida's Congress-folk and Spending

By Dian Vujovich

If you’ve done any thinking at all about money, spending and the government lately, it’s not difficult to conclude that money management isn’t our government’s strong suit.

Last year while credit card companies were jacking up the interest rates they charge their cardholders, Congress managed to jack up their own budgets by 5 percent according a recent story Sun Sentinel story.

Every year our senators and representatives are given an allowance to cover things like staff salaries, office expenses, transportation, etc.

Looking only at Florida’s hand in the deal, our two senators receive over $4 million and the 25 members of the state’s House of Representatives, $1.5 million. Those figures do not include their annual salaries.

Here, according to that story, are some ways our legislatures are spending their allowances:

• U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Miramar Democrat, paid two staffers about $160,000. One was his longtime girlfriend.

• Corrine Brown, a Democrat from North Florida spent nearly $8000 traveling by chauffeured Lincoln Town Cars and an SUV.

• Tom Rooney, a House Republican from the Treasure Coast, spent about $2,500 to maintain an aquarium in his office.

• Self-described deficit hawk and fiscal conservative Ron Klein, a Democrat from Boca Raton spent about $30,000 more in 2009 than in 2008.

• While Hastings went through 96.5 percent of the allowance, Adam Putnam, a Republican, spent the least of it—75.6 percent.

“Shame on our congressmen and [congresswomen] to be so insensitive to the plight of Floridians and Americans who can barely make ends meet,” said Dominic Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch. “It’s absolutely the wrong message at the wrong time.”

Two good news pieces though are money that’s not spent is returned to the U.S. Treasury

The second, of a list of Florida’s top 10 spenders, half were donkeys and the other half elephants.

The full Sun Sentinel story is at: http://tinyurl.com/yjqs5vl .

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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