Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Newspaper: Cut the size of PA Legislature

The Pennsylvania Legislature costs taxpayers at least $300 million a year. Does Pennsylvania, with its declining population, need one of the largest and most expensive state legislatures in the country?

From a recent editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
New data from Illinois -- which rivals Pennsylvania in government inefficiency and corruption -- link lavish legislative pay to bigger budget deficits. The fact bolsters the argument that Harrisburg's excesses must be tackled.

The nonpartisan, free market-oriented Illinois Policy Institute ( found fiscal-year 2010 budget deficits in the 10 states with the lowest legislative salaries averaged 19 percent of their general funds.

In the 10 states with the highest legislative salaries -- Pennsylvania ranks fourth -- the average shortfall was 30 percent.

The Illinois issues the institute focused on mirror those that burden Pennsylvania. And the institute's conclusion about the Land of Lincoln is equally apt for the Keystone State:

"The state pays legislators considerably more than the nationwide average, and Illinois's perpetual budget deficit is a good indication that we're necessarily not getting our money's worth."

The same mindset that has led to career politicians addicted to full-time perks, per diems and personal power replacing part-time citizen legislators in Harrisburg fosters spendthrift policies that perpetuate red ink.

It's one more reason to promote a smaller Pennsylvania General Assembly.

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