DeLuca: Republican majority bill that would replace vehicle leases with mileage reimbursement for official travel would hurt taxpayers
H.B. 482 is ‘feel-good’ legislation that could leave taxpayers footing the bill
HARRISBURG, Oct. 3 – A bill the House majority passed Monday that would eliminate leased vehicles for General Assembly members and require a mileage reimbursement program is nothing more than a “feel-good” measure that would end up costing taxpayers more in the long run, according to state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny.
DeLuca said the bill – designed to look like a cost-saving measure – would instead leave taxpayers footing the additional bill in many cases.
“On Monday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives again went the path of partisanship and election-year politics by voting to pass this terrible bill,” DeLuca said. “Why would we want to do away with a program that costs less? The answer is that the majority under the guise of ‘good government’ wants to advance what amounts to a feel-good bill to be used for a headline or talking points in this re-election year.”
DeLuca said under the current system, General Assembly members may use fleet vehicles owned by the Department of General Services – the agency responsible for leasing vehicles in the commonwealth. The DGS cost on leased vehicles is 25 cents per mile. House Bill 482 would eliminate use of DGS-owned vehicles and instead reimburse members for their miles logged on their personal vehicles at a rate of nearly 55 cents per mile.
DeLuca offered the following numbers to make the difference clear:
Members of the General Assembly drove 610,519 miles in Fiscal Year 2016-17 in vehicles leased through DGS. Comparing the DGS rate of 25 cents per mile to the rate of 55 cents reimbursement per mile for personal vehicles, the charge would have been $173,998 more for mileage with the use of personal vehicles.
Travel expenses from Erie to Harrisburg roundtrip, an estimated 600 miles, would be $150 with the use of a DGS-leased vehicle, compared to $327 with the use of a personal vehicle plus reimbursement – a difference of $177.
Travel expenses from Philadelphia to Harrisburg roundtrip, a distance of at least 200 miles, would be $50 with the use of a DGS-leased vehicle, compared to $109 with the use of a personal vehicle plus reimbursement.
Over time, DeLuca explained, the difference amounts to significant financial waste. He also noted that after a public hearing on the bill, DGS concluded that in light of disparity in rates, continuing leases of DGS-owned vehicles would be the best, most cost-effective travel method for many legislators conducting official business.
DeLuca said he’s tired of partisan politics influencing commonsense policy.
“We did not get elected to get a pay raise every time we drive to report to work,” DeLuca said. “It’s time to see through these bills that masquerade as ‘good government’ measures around campaign time and put an end to them. We need to be moving bills that focus on what constituents really care about – good jobs, affordable health care, quality schools and a fair economy in which everyone pays their fair share so that working families and seniors don’t end up footing the bill.”