EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

June 21, 2014

Travel perks ease legislators' commute

BOSTON – Lawmakers have had their salaries cut in recent years but many still collect a benefit that pays them just to commute to work.

The state gave more than $300,000 to lawmakers traveling to Boston last year, according to records kept by State Treasurer Steven Grossman’s office. Payments were tied to how far a legislator lives from the Statehouse and ranged from $10 per day for those commuting from Greater Boston to $90 per day for some in Western Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

State law entitles lawmakers to collect the taxpayer-funded reimbursement for each day they go to the Statehouse on official business. Not all accept the per diem payment, and not all seek reimbursement each time they travel.

Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, topped the list of 110 lawmakers who were reimbursed for travel last year - of a total of 200 legislators serving in the House and Senate. Rosenberg, the majority leader who is poised to become the next Senate president, racked up $12,780 in expenses in 2013.

Eleven of 17 state representatives from the Merrimack Valley and North Shore took advantage of the perk in 2013. Only one of the area’s five state senators, Sen. Bruce Tarr, got the payment in 2013.

Tarr, R-Gloucester, and Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, D-Gloucester, led the pack among lawmakers north of Boston who took advantage of the perk. Both were paid $3,952 on top of their $61,133 base salary last year, or $26 for each of 178 days they commuted from Cape Ann in 2013.

Rep. Ted Speliotis wasn’t far behind. The Danvers Democrat was paid $3,510 or 195 commutes to Boston, or $18 per trip.

House Republican minority leader Bradley Jones Jr., of North Reading, collected $3,042 for 169 trips at $18 a day.

Outgoing Democrat Rep. Michael Costello of Newburyport received $2,990 for 115 trips. Rep. Diana DiZoglio, a Methuen Democrat, received $2,470 for 95 trips to Boston.

Others who received the benefit were: Rep. Frank Moran, D-Lawrence, $1,950 for 195 days; Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, $1,846 for 71 days; Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, $1,674 for 93 days; Rep. Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence, $1,196 for 46 days; and Rep. Jerald Parisella, D-Beverly, $1,314 for 73 days.

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