SAN ANTONIO -- The full-color calendar is big, and comes with a personalized greeting.
State Rep Justin Rodriguez’s says have “a prosperous 2014.”
But constituent Barbara Miller says look past the bright and beautiful photography and you discover a scene of wasted taxpayer money.
“Well, I opened it saw what it was and thought, 'Wow, wonder how much this cost me?'” said Miller.
Rodriguez’s office spent $3.50 for the personalized calendar, $3.26 for the postage, and about a dollar for the envelope, all postmarked in time for the holidays.
Miller said she probably received it, because the die-hard Republican is always calling or commenting on something with her state representatives.
Miller says the calendar is simply outdated.
“I have a calendar on my checkbook. I have a calendar on my computer. I even have one on my email that emails me of doctor’s appointments. I don’t really use calendars, but it’s a really pretty calendar,” said Miller.
And the I-Team wondered how much is spent by house members for the 12-month spread?
The Texas House Business Office reports 125 house members ordered 70,000 calendars, at a cost in the neighborhood of a quarter-million dollars.
Personalized calendars cost 50-cents more.
We polled a few of our local reps:
Justin Rodriguez ordered 1,000 calendars. Roland Gutierrez, 400 calendars.
Jose Menendez, 200 calendars. Trey Martinez-Fischer, approximately 800 calendars.
If the state lawmaker decides to mail them, rather than give them away at holiday parties, the price tag grows.
“That’s just waste. It’s not a benefit to everyone,” said Miller.
The money to pay for the calendars comes from each house member’s office operating budget, which is funded by taxpayers.
The House Business Office said very rarely is that money ever reimbursed through a politician’s campaign spending account.
The Texas Senate sends out its own calendar, and that branch of state government has its own set of rules.
Senators tell the I-Team they can only pay for the calendars with campaign funds, not tax dollars.
Back on the house side, State Rep. Jose Menendez said he has nothing to hide: he tells the I-Team the calendars are good P.R. and he doesn’t mail them out, in order to contain costs.
State Rep. Rodriguez said he spent about $11,000 this year on the calendars and the postage, and added that Mrs. Miller’s was the only complaint he received.
Many constituents responded with emails and cards, thanking Rodriguez for thinking of them.
“I think it’s a bit of a goodwill measure, and it is outreach to the district,” Rodriguez said. “Folks do certainly use them and appreciate getting them.”
And as for being an outdated date device?
Rodriguez sent the I-Team a photo of a well-used House calendar on his children’s bedroom door, well-worn with pen marks that eagerly count down the days to Christmas.