If you wonder if your state representatives feel your pain when they fill up their cars at the pump, then you were wrong.
SACRAMENTO (AP) - Californians have been feeling pain at the pump for months amid record-high gas prices, with one notable exception: state lawmakers.
Members of Californias Legislature enjoy a perk not available in any other state capital - unchecked use of gasoline charge cards that stick taxpayers with the bill.
Through the first seven months of the year, California taxpayers have spent $220,000 to pay the gasoline charges of their lawmakers, according to a review of records requested by The Associated Press. That includes July, when lawmakers already were passed their deadline to approve a budget and the state faced a $15.2 billion deficit.
California is unique in giving legislators free rein on transportation spending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most other states, lawmakers must submit the same kind of mileage expense forms used by companies to reimburse employees for their business travel.
You have to prove what youre using it for, said Morgan Cullin, a Denver-based researcher for the bipartisan national organization.
On top of free gas, California lawmakers also get state-issued vehicles, another perk that most states avoid.
Todays Diplomat of the Day award goes to Jon Waldie, who knows who is in charge of his paycheck.
The fuel card given to lawmakers is supposed to be used for legislative purposes, but there is no way to check if they use it for public business or private travel.
I trust them, said Jon Waldie, the Assembly Rules Committees chief administrative officer.
He's the only one.