State should watch our pennies when traveling

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000

To paraphrase Ben Franklin’s famous saying: A penny saved is a penny earned. Those words rang true more than 200 years ago when Franklin first wrote them in &uot;Poor Richard’s Almanac,&uot; and they hold true today as well.

A new report by Mississippi’s legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) Committee shows that state agencies should take Franklin’s message to heart.

The report shows state travel expenses have increased 66 percent in the past six years. Last year’s travel bill totaled $67 million.

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While the report didn’t find anything fishy about the travel expenses, it simply appears no one seems to watch the bottom line when the state’s paying the bills.

From shopping around for cheaper tickets to simply making sure every trip is necessary, the report showed many places where taxpayers’ money might be saved.

For instance, the report pointed out that some employees who are required to drive all across our state do so in personal vehicles and are reimbursed at a high rate. In fact, the rate was so high, PEER Committee members said, that employees looked at their mileage expense as a supplement to their salary.

The report went on to say that in such cases giving the employee a state-owned vehicle would be more cost-effective than continuing to pay mileage.

Thursday, the state announced Mississippi employees will be able to search for airline tickets on the Internet — which proves the need for the report. Finding such opportunities for expense savings is exactly the purpose of the PEER Committee. Members of the committee have done their job. Now it’s time to see if state agencies heed the advice found in the report the next time they prepare to spend some our our state’s pennies.