Audit shows Pa. taxpayers picking up the tab — literally

    With talk focused on the Pennsylvania budget, it may be easy to forget the Legislature has its own spending plan.  An audit of how that money was spent in 2010 and 2011 has been released, after several delays.

    Here are some of the more surprising items that the House and Senate paid for with tax dollars.

    Steve Baloga, with Ernst and Young, the firm hired to do the audit, says some people bought alcohol and were reimbursed. But he says at least one person paid the state back, and overall, such drink orders were put on the commonwealth’s tab only a few times.

    “We don’t know if there’s a policy that prohibits that, but we bring it to management’s attention because it might not look good,” said Baloga.

    The chairman of the panel overseeing the audit says the alcohol purchases are inappropriate.

    Government reform activists are incensed and not just over drink orders.

    The auditor also mentions that people submitted restaurant receipts for reimbursement without including an itemized list of their meal orders.

    Tim Potts, of the group, Majority Party PA, says he has one guess as to why lawmakers and staff aren’t submitting itemized receipts.

    “They don’t do it because they don’t want people to know how they’re spending taxpayer money,” said Potts.

    The 2010-2011 legislative account audit shows a nearly $300 million budget total, with about 80 percent spent on payroll and benefits.

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