California has finally changed an outdated law from the 1950’s which allowed legislators to receive free car repair and car maintenance service courtesy of the taxpaying citizens of California. The old law made some sense when some representatives had to drive hundreds of miles to the capital of Sacramento, but in modern times when most representatives are either located in Sacramento or regularly commute by flying, it had essentially become a taxpayer-funded subsidy of the personal auto repair costs for California legislators.
In light of California’s recent budget crises, this perk seems particularly wasteful and has angered many California taxpayers, who would rather not pay for the car maintenance service of these (typically already wealthy) legislators. a 2009 article in the L.A. Times estimated that the law had cost taxpayers over $3 million over a 3-year period for the car repair and car maintenance services.
Unfortunately, it looks like some less scrupulous legislators decided to take advantage of the situation one last time just before the benefit was ended. As reported be the Associated Press, a number of California lawmakers either took their state-provided vehicles in for auto repair, or in some cases–upgrades–before the law was set to expire. Senator Bob Dutton had almost $6,000 in auto repairs to his SUV paid for, which included “a dent in the rear bumper fixed, the power steering and brakes replaced, and a detailed cleaning.” He then bought the vehicle for $12,000 in campaign funds, only to sell it back to the dealership for $11,000. Needless to say, Mr. Dutton is now under investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Thankfully, Californians are no longer footing the bill for their legislators’ unnecessary car repairs as the benefit has finally been ended effective this past December.