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Thursday, July 07, 2005

I think I'll gather up some fellow employees and put this matter to a vote.

While you were sleeping this morning, the [Pennsylvania] General Assembly voted to approve ... hefty pay raises of $11,000, or 16 percent, for rank-and-file members and thousands more for legislative leaders and committee heads.

The state Senate voted 27 to 23 at 2:15 a.m. to approve the controversial raises, which lawmakers say are justified because of the long hours they put in, and because they haven't had a "real" raise in a decade. After taking the vote, senators rose from their desks, exchanging hugs, kisses, handshakes and high-fives.

The state House had voted 119 to 79 in favor of the raises shortly before the Senate did. Neither chamber debated the pay-raise issue publicly ... House and Senate members, who approved the budget a full week after its July 1 deadline, left their chambers shortly after the pay-raise vote, and many either declined to answer questions from reporters or simply slipped away before they could be queried.

The pay-raise bill ties General Assembly salaries as a percentage of congressional salaries.
Rank-and-file state legislators will get 50 percent of the $162,000 a year that congressmen get, or $81,000. However, that would be the lowest salary under the new structure. Only one freshman senator is expected to make the base $81,000.

Now, I'd certainly like an $11,000, or even just a 16% pay raise. Of course, I'd have to really prove to my employer that I was worth it, that my value added to the company justified that increase. If my boss didn't think I was worth it, he'd say no. Or offer a smaller increase. I could take it, or shop my résumé around.

A COLA tied to inflation is one thing. I think most people could understand that.

But these legislators? They like to freely spend their bosses money. And it's we, the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, who are their bosses. I think its time that we "fired" 27 Senators and 119 House members, when their next election comes around.


Friday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a followup to yesterday's Legislative pay raise article.

Not all legislators will keep pay raise

Some highlights:

State Rep. Tom Petrone says he didn't vote for a 16 percent pay raise to benefit himself, but to help others, such as Supreme Court and lower court judges and Gov. Ed Rendell and his Cabinet members.
Petrone, a West End Democrat, said he wasn't going to keep the extra $11,000 a year.
"I'm going to give it to as many needy groups as possible," he said yesterday, a few hours after the House and Senate had approved the hefty raise and gone home for the summer. "I'm going to spread it around to Scouts and every group that needs it in my district."
Rep. Jess Stairs, R-Westmoreland, voted against the raise, which will take legislators' base salaries to $81,000 a year starting after the November 2006 elections. He's also giving the extra money away.
"Over the years I've met hundreds of good organizations in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, and this will give me a chance to help them a little bit," he said.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, who also voted against the 16 percent raise, said yesterday he won't accept the money.
"By voting no and not taking it, it's putting your money where your mouth is," he said. "There are families out here living paycheck to paycheck and I don't think we should vote for our own increases."

There are various legislators quoted with their justifications, and also a list of how Pittsburgh area legislators voted. The PA Senate has a 30-20 Republican majority, and the PA House has 109 to 92 seat Republican majority.