Regarding Celine Dion, some things just need to be said. Regarding the COLA, let me say a couple of things.
First, the per diems were actual invented by corporate America to save money, and in fact, they save taxpayers money as well. Think of it this way, supposed that instead of per diems, we had a receipt-reimbursement system. And suppose that over 10 years we determined that using that system, we wound up reimbursing legislators $171 per night on average. But that we also spent half a million additional dollars per year monitoring and verifying the receipts. Wouldn’t it make sense to just give the legislators $171 per night and save the half-million dollars in monitoring costs?
Finally, on the pay-raise, that’s not what happened. I was there. The raise was not passed in the “middle of the night” because we were hoping that nobody would notice. The press gallery was completely full. People would notice. It passed late because some people would only vote on it if the bills they cared about ran first. So, there were some environmental bills, some budget bills, and once they were done, we voted on the pay raise. But it’s just a false narrative to say that we hoped nobody would notice.