Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do PA legislators deserve a pay raise?

Gov. Ed Rendell and the Pennsylvania Legislature, the same people who have saddled the state with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, are giving themselves a pay raise.

These are the same people who have failed to take action on the state's transportation and health care needs. The same people who have done nothing to prevent skyrocketing electricity rates once caps expire. The same people who have failed to do anything about property taxes for the past 30 years.

But they will be getting an annual cost-of-living raise, effective Dec. 1.

House and Senate members will receive a 2.8 percent raise, setting lawmakers' base pay at $78,315, according to The Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Pay for the 30 legislative leaders will range from $89,300 to $122,254 after Dec. 1, when the annual COLA raise kicks in, the newspaper says.

The Legislature passed a bill in 1995 that automatically gives its members a pay raise unless a majority votes against the annual COLA. To date, lawmakers have never rejected the money.

Gov. Rendell, his cabinet and state judges will get the same 2.8-percent increase, effective Jan. 1. The governor's salary will rise to $174,956.

From The Patriot-News article:
For lawmakers, who according to their attorneys have no right to forgo the raise, it will keep their fourth-place national ranking in legislative salaries. California at $116,208, Michigan at $79,650, and New York at $79,500 pay more.

Pennsylvania is one of four states that grant lawmakers automatic cost-of-living raises, according to Morgan Cullen of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

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