Until the perk ended one year ago, California was the last state in the union to provide its lawmakers with unlimited use of taxpayer-funded automobiles. But just before the legislators were required to hand over the keys to their cars on Dec. 1, 2011, at least a dozen charged the state for repairs and then bought the cars for personal use.
According to the AP, which reported the story using public records from the Legislature and the DMV, Sen. Ellen Corbett was one of the lawmakers who billed taxpayers for fixes on a car she would soon own.
“[Corbett] had a "55 point vehicle inspection" on her 2007 Toyota Prius Hybrid just three days before she was to surrender the vehicle she later bought. The $827 billed to taxpayers that day also included a new water pump, drive belt and update to the vehicle's GPS system.”
The AP report does not include how the prices for the cars were fixed, or if the lawmakers ultimately paid for the cost of the repairs when they bought the cars.
The $78,000 the state spent on car repairs in the final months of the program is a microscopic fraction of the state’s budget. It barely registers next to the $5 million the State Legislature spent on cars when the perk was at its peak. Still, a number of the usual anti-tax advocates and government watchdog groups told the AP that the repairs were yet one more example of politicians squandering other people’s money. What do you think?