Skip to comments.Another pay hike coming in 2006 | With poll (PA legislators)
Posted on 08/17/2005 4:58:31 AM PDT by Born Conservative
HARRISBURG Fresh off self-approved raises ranging from 16 percent to 34 percent, state lawmakers wont have to wait too long before their pay goes up again.
Starting Dec. 1, 2006, all members of the General Assembly will be in line for the same percentage pay increase as members of Congress receive, or a cost of living adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index for Philadelphia whichever is greater.
Nobody said these guys were stupid, said Matthew J. Brouillette, president of The Commonwealth Foundation, a fiscally conservative think tank based in Harrisburg. They certainly designed this so that they were getting the best of both worlds
The controversial pay raise law approved by lawmakers in the early morning hours of July 7 links legislative salaries to those of their congressional counterparts.
The new base salary for state lawmakers jumped to $81,051 from the previous base of $69,700. Legislative leaders and committee heads saw even greater increases in their paychecks.
Locally, Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow, D-Peckville, received the largest pay increase 34 percent, to $134,771 from his previous salary of $100,911. Of Luzerne Countys House members, Wilkes-Barre Rep. Kevin Blaum is the highest paid. As Democratic Caucus secretary, his salary rose to $106,986, up from $79,418.
Those salaries will hold the line until December 2006. Thats when all state legislators, under the new law, are due their next raise.
Each Dec. 1 thereafter, state lawmakers will automatically receive annual pay raises without ever having to cast another pay raise vote.
Members of Congress have already received a 1.9 percent cost of living adjustment, or COLA, this year, and they are in line for another automatic pay increase next summer.
If state lawmakers only receive that same 1.9 percent bump next year, their base salary would rise to $82,590. Mellows pay would move up to $137,331, while Blaums salary would climb to $109,019.
However, its possible that a COLA based on the Philadelphia regions CPI would be higher than the congressional raise. The CPI is a measure of the average change in prices of goods and services purchased by households over a period of time.
The CPI in the Philadelphia region has hovered around 2.5 percent the past few years, but jumped to 5.2 percent in 2004.
If the COLA were based on the current CPI for the Philly market, lawmakers salaries would rise by 3.4 percent. At that rate, the base salary for lawmakers would increase to $83,806. Mellows salary would rise to $139,353, and Blaums would bump up to $110,624.
No matter how raises are calculated, lawmakers have ensured that they will continue to receive more compensation every year, raising the ire of public advocacy groups around the state.
It definitely is, in my opinion, a waste of taxpayers money, said Christine Katsock, president of the Wilkes-Barre Taxpayers Association. Its not only the pay raise. Its the benefits that go along with it.
The benefits for state lawmakers are generous, with their total compensation approaching $150,000, and significantly more in some cases.
Among the perks of being a state legislator are: $128 a day in per diems for expenses while in Harrisburg; up to $650 a month for vehicle leases, totaling up to $7,800 a year; and taxpayer-paid premiums for their health care plans ($13,500 for representatives, $14,280 for senators) which include medical, dental, vision and prescription drug coverage.
Legislative leaders, including Mellow, have defended the most recent pay increase, saying state lawmakers are on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
A pay raise is warranted, Mellow has said. People work very hard in this job.
Brouillette of The Commonwealth Foundation fired back: Everybody works hard. However, that is not a measure of worth or compensation level.
The question we really need to ask is what is public service? he said. In our opinion, public service is giving back to the public, not taking from the public.
Please tell me we can get 'Remember the Pay Raise' bumper stickers!
Look at the letter from Barrar.
This is chicken feed. The city manager in our town earned over $322,000 in direct cash salary plus benefits in 2004. We live in a city with a population of 19,000
How was Jerry Hanson able to get a $322,809 contract from a city with a median income of $29,500 that was mired in a $10.8 million bankruptcy?
The answer: He wrote his own contract, and City Council approved it by a 4-1 vote - against the advice of the city's attorney at the time.
According to information gathered Friday by The Desert Sun from the former city attorney, the current city manager and Gary Bosworth, the only council member who voted against Hanson's initial March 2003 city manager contract, Hanson made revisions to the contract himself.
And a council majority approved it, despite the city's top lawyer saying it should be rejected because it was too lucrative and not a good deal for taxpayers.
It's the latest twist in the story that surfaced in March when city officials confirmed the $322,809 figure after Hanson's W2 was leaked to reporters.
Is there enough money left in the City budget for some lumber, some tar and feathers, and 5 lengths of rope?
Those billboards are great!
The billboards are great! This is an outrage. To me, this is the same as any group of employees getting into their company's payroll records and just giving themselves a raise and then seeing if their employers' 'catch' the added costs. They did this in the middle of the night, with the support of the judicial branch (nice raises for all of the judges too) and all under the blessing of the ever backpeddling Fast Eddie Rendell. I hope the big story is that every incumbent, for the next several years, gets voted out of the state house and senate. How about these guys having to pay for their vehicles, contribute to the medical coverage, and be at the mercy of their employers for merit raises. Welcome to the real world!
The Bob Mellow billboard should somehow include his response to the anger of taxpayers over the increase: "Get a life".
Well, figuratively, yes. In reality, those items you mention are collectively referred to as a recall initiative now underway.
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