MLA Barnett, Simpson’s expenses released

The provincial government has released its expenses for the 2010/11 fiscal year that includes MLAs remuneration, travel and living allowances while in Victoria.

The provincial government has released its expenses for the 2010/11 fiscal year that includes MLAs remuneration, travel and living allowances while in Victoria.

According to the report, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett receives a salary of $101,859, $14,041 for capital living expenses and $23,554 for travel, in addition to an allowance of $15,279 for her work as parliamentary secretary.

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson receives identical remuneration — as do all MLAs. Simpson’s capital city expenses were $14,174 and travel was $49,250.

Simpson admitted he’s “a bit on the high side” on travel and says that has to do with his belief as former forestry and aboriginal affairs portfolio critic for the NDP that he get on the ground and see what the issues are. The 2010/11 expense report covers several months when Simpson was the NDP’s aboriginal affairs critic before leaving the party late last year.

He further points out that for northern and rural MLAs air travel is expensive and says that he tries to keep it down by driving to Victoria — for which MLAs claim mileage — and doing “business” along the way.  Simpson is pushing for further transparency when it comes to MLA costs and says if the government doesn’t move in that direction in presenting more detailed information to the public — as it has said it would — he will go ahead with it on his own.

“I think we create more of a mess when we’re not absolutely transparent. I’m not making money off business expenses,” he said. “I am losing time with my family and away from my community in order to serve the public interest and all the legislative assembly is doing is covering my expenses to do that.”

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says she keeps her travel down as much as she can and still does her job.

Barnett, like all MLAs, is compensated for travel within her riding but in a category other than “travel.”

Most of Barnett’s travel is to the legislature in Victoria and to beetle coalition meetings in Prince George and Kamloops. This year she’s a member of the government’s rural caucus and is also compensated for travel related to that post.