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Leaders agree on reform for MLA expenses – Metro US

Leaders agree on reform for MLA expenses

The three provincial party leaders emerged from a meeting of the minds late yesterday to announce sweeping changes to the MLA expense system.

The leaders and chiefs of staff agreed on an NDP motion requiring politicians to submit receipts for all expenses. Currently, an MLA can spend as much as $48,000 every year without presenting any receipts.

The idea from opposition parties to post all receipts online for public viewing was also adopted.

Another change presented by the opposition is to review salaries for constituency assistants. MLAs had been using expense accounts to pay bonuses to their CAs, but no one was making sure the appropriate deductions and taxes were paid.

Premier Darrell Dexter said yesterday to fix that system, those employees will likely get a raise.

“There’s certainly a feeling among the opposition leaders that it’s clear (assistants) work very long hours and need to be appropriately compensated for it,” Dexter said.

The administrative unit to review processing of expenses will also be beefed up.

All of this is expected to take place next Tuesday at the upcoming — and perhaps final — meeting of a group of MLAs known as the Internal Economy Board.

The board traditionally met in secret to decide issues around political pay and expenses, but Dexter had previously said it will be opened up to the public and soon replaced with a public commission.

Next Tuesday, the IEB will also receive the preliminary report from Art Donahoe, who is looking in detail into expense-system reform.

“There are some things that we agree need to be done immediately, so the best thing for us to do is act expeditiously,” said Dexter.

The government is planning to have legislation in place by the March 25 opening of the legislature that will officially replace the IEB and overhaul the expense system.

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