New pay raises for state legislators causing a stir for some political groups

Local News

Newly elected lawmakers here in Pennsylvania won’t get sworn into their new jobs until January.  But, come December 1st, they will start collecting a paycheck.  Some are saying that isn’t right.

Starting in December, the base pay for lawmakers is more than $88,000; that comes out to about $7,400 they’ll make in the month of December, despite new lawmakers not even being sworn in until January.

Nathan Benefield with the conservative ‘Commonwealth Foundation’ says, “You can call your new lawmaker, go have a meeting with them, visit with them. They’re hiring staff and filling the position. So, they are working.”

Pennsylvania has a full-time legislature, meaning lawmakers get paid evenly throughout the year, whether they are in session or not.  

Benefield says, “I think the bigger question is, does Pennsylvania need a full-time legislature? Do we need to be paying them year round?”

He points to a state like Texas, that has a bigger population, but only a part-time legislature that only meets a few times per month. “That’s been a better model, more effective legislature. Both in terms of the cost to taxpayers, but even for better governance.”

Eric Epstein, with the watchdog group, ‘Rock the Capital,’ says, “This is a fork in the road. You can either take pay for work you didn’t perform and get ingrained into the system where you’re compromised, or you can take a stand.”

Epstein is calling on new lawmakers to not collect a paycheck until they’re sworn in next year.  He wants legislators to say, “I am not going to take pay for work I didn’t perform, donate it to charity, and by the way, we’re going to cosponsor legislation that gets rid of this ridiculous practice.”

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