I have already written extensively regarding my opinions on the Legislative COLAs earlier in the month in my blog posts titled “Michele Brooks Gives Back Legislative Pay Raise, but Can More Be Done To Really Save Money in Harrisburg?” and “An Early Christmas Gift For All of Us: Brooks and Robbins are both thumbs-up for Legislative Pay Raise “Give Back”.
- In 1995, Pennsylvania legislators passed a law (ACT 51) that established cost of living increases (referred to as COLAs) for themselves and other state officials, including the governor and judges.
- In 2005, the legislature pushed through a middle-of-the-night pay raise that was to replace the COLAs. The public forced the legislature to repeal that pay raise just a few months later . . . leaving the COLAs in place.
- On December 1 of 2008, the latest COLA increase went into effect. The base salary for Pennsylvania lawmakers went up from $76,163 to $78,315; Gov. Ed Rendell’s pay went from $170,150 to $174,914; and Supreme court Chief Justice Ronald Castille’s salary went from $186,582 to $191,876.
- Based on the weight of the troubled economy (and Pennsylvania’s expected budget shortfall), some lawmakers (like Rep. Michele Brooks, 17th District (R)) came forward immediately and said that they planned on giving back their legislative pay raise. Others soon followed (Robbins, Longietti, and Stevenson of Mercer County all agreed).
- Unfortunately, the state is unprepared to accept the “give backs”. Alexis Brown, comptroller for the House of Representatives said “I can’t deduct if from their salary”. Instead, anyone that wishes to reject the raise must send a refund to the State Treasury (or, they have the option of donating the money to a charity). Additionally, officials are still required to pay state and federal income taxes on the raises.
Dear Pennsylvania State Senator / Representative:
I support all Pennsylvania State Legislators who have volunteered to “give back” their 2.8% salary increase, but I still expect more from our lawmakers.
I am writing to you to let you know that I support the REPEAL OF ACT 51 of 1995 which allows for automatic cost of living increases for Pennsylvania Lawmakers (COLAs). I am asking you to openly support ANY effort to REPEAL Act 51, and to do so as an order of first business during the 2009-2010 session.
As a registered voter in your district, I expect a respectful response at your earliest
Hon. Robert D. Robbins
337 Capitol Building
Senate Box 203050
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3050
Hon. Michele Brooks
153B East Wing
PO Box 202017
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2017
Fax: (717) 705-1948
Hon. Mark Longietti
103 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202007
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2007
Fax: (717) 780-4785
Hon. Richard R. Stevenson
155B East Wing
PO Box 202008
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2008
Fax: (717) 705-1949