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AUGUST 03 - AUGUST 11, 2015

Ceretto Makes Headlines for Spending $11 more Than Assembly Competition

By Mike Hudson

AUGUST 03, 2015

While the typical New York legislator lives in New York City which is 157 miles from Albany, Assemblyman John Ceretto lives in Lewiston NY which is 310 miles from Albany (double the mileage). Yet the media skewered Ceretto for having slightly more mileage than the next highest, a lawmaker from the New York City area.

Poor John Ceretto.

Our New York state assemblyman became the unlikely poster boy for government waste last week when state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report citing the per diem expenses racked up by members of the state Assembly and Senate.

Ceretto came in first in the Assembly, having spent $19,534 in lodging, food, mileage and tolls during the legislative session, according DiNapoli.

Ceretto’s total was just a whisker above Queens Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, who came in a close second with $19,523 in travel-related reimbursements during that period.

Legislative travel expenses have come under more scrutiny in the past year. Former Assemblyman William Scarborough is facing prison time after putting in for $40,000 in travel expenses he admitted he didn’t incur. Scarborough said he was trying to pad his $79,500 base salary.

The Assembly has since put in place new requirements that end use of the honor system when filing for hotel and meal reimbursements.

In other words, Ceretto had receipts for all of his out of pocket expenses.

The legislative session runs from January through June, and lawmakers receive $172 a day for lodging and meals for every day they are at the Capitol. They also get reimbursement for travel expenses, such as mileage and tolls.

“The hardest part of my job is being away from home, but I took on this job to do the best I can do and to do that is to make every session,” Ceretto said, noting that Niagara Falls is one of the furthest places from Albany in the state.

All told, Ceretto’s per diem payments were a drop in the bucket compared to the total. The New York state Assembly claimed $1.8 million in reimbursements, while the state Senate claimed $687,466.

But ironically, the man known as “Honest John” among his colleagues found himself on the front pages of newspapers across the state for having spent exactly $11 more over the course of the year than the next guy.

Lawmakers in both New York houses are paid an annual salary of $79,500, plus their per diem rates.







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