Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer, who has covered Harrisburg for decades, is having a difficult time understanding why members of the Pennsylvania Legislature, already among the highest-paid in the country, need to keep so many high-paid staffers around.
A recent Associated Press report listed 73 state legislative staffers who earned more than $100,000 in 2008, more than double what the average Pennsylvanian earns — $43,000. Two staffers brought home more than the governor's $174,914 salary, the wire service reported.
The Pennsylvania Legislature is already the most expensive in the nation, with an annual cost of $334 million, according to Baer.
In addition to 253 elected lawmakers, the Legislature employs 3,156 staffers, Baer says. Base pay for rank-and-file lawmakers is $78,315, but the job, with perks and benefits, is really six figures, Baer writes.
From Baer's column:
I never understood why the sixth-largest state needs the largest legislature (technically, New Hampshire's is larger, but part-time; its 424 lawmakers are paid $100 a year), especially given the legislature's performance, venality and, if you believe the state attorney general, level of corruption.Read the full column, "Our state lawmakers are tops ... when it comes to staff numbers," at the newspaper's Web site.
I sure don't understand why we need the largest staff - especially as thousands of regular state workers face layoffs.
Our bloated Legislature has a bloated underbelly.