Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Part-time legislators at full-time pay

It may be the most expensive state legislature in the United States, but nobody can accuse the Pennsylvania Legislature of burning the midnight oil.

Actually that may be a good thing because when the Legislature stays in session after midnight, bad things happen, like the casino gambling bill in 2004 and the pay hike in 2005.

Eric Heyl, a columnist for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, recently totaled the number of days the Pennsylvania Legislature was in session in 2007.

From Hey's column:
Many readers were upset to learn recently in this space that lawmakers with base salaries of more than $76,000 annually spend more time in recess than they do in session.

For those who missed that column, a brief recap: From January through June, legislators rarely spent more than three consecutive days in Harrisburg performing what is supposed to be their primary professional function: passing legislation.

Before beginning a recess in early July from which they haven't returned, lawmakers took breaks of three and four weeks at a time. In fact, they were not in session at all for 11 of the first 26 weeks of the year.
Now comes the kicker: The Legislature is planning to be in session for just 16 more days in 2008, Heyl says. You heard it right. The most expensive state Legislature in the U.S., costing Pennsylvania taxpayers $300 million a year for the 253 legislators and their 3,000+ staffers, is planning to work just 16 more days this year.

Click here to read "16 days of work in six months may tire House"

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