Brabenec had the most Albany expenses in region (updated)

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec has requested more than $14,000 in reimbursement from the state for gas, meals and lodging for his travels to Albany for this year’s legislative session, the highest total in per diems and travel costs among the 11 Assembly members and senators representing parts of Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

Expense totals posted online by the state Comptroller’s Office on Thursday reflect reimbursements state legislators had sought through June 30 for the 60-day legislative session that ended June 21, and perhaps for the two days they reported for duty last week to tend to unfinished business.

Brabenec, a Deerpark Republican who lives farther from the capital than other lawmakers from this region, led the list at this time last year as well, although Sen. John Bonacic wound up with the highest expense total for 2016 after subsequent claims were filed. Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther also have long drives, and they followed Brabenec in this week’s totals with more than $13,000 and $11,000 in expense reimbursements, respectively.

Lawmakers are paid a fixed amount for meals and lodging in Albany for the days they work there, regardless of how much they actually spend. The amount last year were $59 per day for meals and $115 for each night in a hotel; it’s unclear if those amounts changed this year. (Update: per the U.S. General Services Administration, the meal amount stayed the same, and the hotel rate went up $1 to $116.)

As in the past, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Sen. James Seward both sought reimbursement for air fare to attend conferences. Cahill’s plane travel cost $1,967; Seward’s was $1,037.

The same three lawmakers who charged no expenses in 2016 also put in for no reimbursements this year: Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam; Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie; and Assemblyman Frank Skartados, D-Milton.

Here are the total for the eight legislators who will be repaid for expenses:

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-Deerpark: $14,353

Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope: $13,206

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh: $11,354

Sen. James Seward, R-Milford: $10,707

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston: $9,707

Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury: $9,639

Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford: $5,678

Sen. Bill Larkin, R-Cornwall-on-Hudson: $4,696

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