In case you thought we were picking on civil servants in our recent editorial on taxpayer-funded largesse, let's refocus our attention to another group of people who have their hands in our back pockets - our elected members of the legislative assembly.
B.C.'s MLAs are the second highest paid in Canada and among the top five per cent of income earners in the province, pulling in a minimum of about $102,000 a year.
Cabinet and committee appointments can considerably increase that number, plus MLAs receive payment for living and office expenses, travel and meals.
We believe that our representatives in Victoria should be paid well for the important work they do - and we know that the job is a thankless one. But considering the number of days the legislature was actually in session this year, perhaps we ought to ask for a refund.
Watchdog group IntegrityBC is calling for an independent panel to review and make recommendations on MLA benefits.
"No one expects an MLA to subsist on Kraft Dinner, couch surf or give up a pension plan," said IntegrityBC
executive director Dermod Travis.
But you might be surprised to learn that taxpayers contribute $4 for every dollar MLAs put into that pension plan, and that this changed in 2007 from a much more realistic plan in which you and I matched MLA contributions one to one.
As well, the byzantine rules for claiming expenses, many of which don't even require receipts, leave the system wide open for abuse.
Government must lead by example in cutting budget costs.
- Managing Editor