Each year the members of the General Assembly spend 90 days raking over the state budget, debating $100,000 here, $1 million there.
Meanwhile, on the taxpayers' dime, they are staying in hotels, claiming expenses for mileage and eating meals. This year Maryland's lawmakers spent about $2 million in this way, most of it stemming from hotel stays. That amount is close to last year's.
Some lawmakers pledge not to spend any money in this way; others say the reimbursed expenses help them operate more efficiently. Elected officials can claim $100 a day for lodging, $45 a day for meals and $0.575 per mile.