Safety & Accident

California Taxpayers Foot Bill for Legislators' Company Car Crashes

August 08, 2007

SACRAMENTO, CA –Among the many perks the 80 members of the California State Assembly receive, in addition to a car of their choosing, is a benefit that pays to fix any damage to that vehicle, no matter who is driving, and whether or not it’s being used for legislative business according to the San Jose Mercury News.

That policy is one reason taxpayers have contributed more than $300,000 in the past five years in repairs, according to a review of public documents. And the benefit likely helped lawmakers save thousands of dollars of their own money by avoiding premium increases to their personal insurance policies.

The review found a number of startling facts and incidents that call into question the state’s policy. Among the more notable:

While many Californians go five years without an accident, some lawmakers filed claims for multiple repairs, including two Bay Area legislators who turned in a dozen between them.

In several instances, lawmakers initially filled out the state’s accident-report form acknowledging the damage was caused on personal business, but later decided they were, in fact, working. On at least two occasions, a lawmaker’s spouse or child was behind the wheel, and the repairs were covered with public funds.

The cars are owned by the Assembly, leased back to the legislators, and later sold at auction. Lawmakers, who earn a $113,000 annual salary, receive up to $500 a month to lease a car of their choice. Taxpayers also cover gasoline and maintenance expenses.

However, the state Senate, which also buys cars for senators, has a slightly different policy. Senators are billed for the damage they cause to their own vehicles while on personal business or for accidents caused by their family members, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

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