I was reading through a story on MLA expenses recently, and I had to wonder, why are there two sets of rules, one for the rest of us, and one for our politicians in Victoria?
Now, in the story by Tom Fletcher, there are some really remarkable things going on with MLA travel expenses, and this is not just a Liberal issue or an NDP issue or an independent issue.
Unfortunately, the issue appears to be more entrenched than one party’s lack of bookkeeping.
MLAs are not required to produce receipts, and are not required to list where or for what reason they are expensing the costs. Tens of thousands of dollars in MLA expenses charged and submitted without receipts and no apparent accountability either.
Now I find this curious, because while it is a pain in the butt, keeping receipts and tracking costs is something most of us do at some point.
When I was a firefighter for the province, I had a provincial credit card, and I used it frequently, but I had to account for every penny spent.
In fact, we had such strict oversight in the fire centre, if we were out by 25 cents, we would be expected to deliver it to the bookkeepers in person (I think they thought this was a good lesson). If we lost a receipt, an attempt had to be made to get a new one issues, and if not possible, a form had to be filled out and signed.
Sure I dreaded the monthly statement, sorting through the receipts and arranging them, but once a smart coworker developed a simple Excel worksheet to write in the necessary codes, it did not take much time, and as long as I had managed to keep my receipts in reasonable order, everyone was happy.
Now I know MLAs are busy people, but is it really that hard to ask for a receipt and make sure to have the liquor on a separate bill?
They have office staff who could fill out the paperwork, as long as they kept track and logged their receipts properly.
How are we supposed to take politicians seriously and trust them when they are allowed free reign on spending our hard-earned dollars for their travel expenses?
What I would like to know most, however, is this: How would an auditor respond if we were to file our taxes and claim tens of thousands of dollars in expenses without keeping a single receipt? Not sure it would fly.