Size of PA’s Expensive Legislature Gets A New Look

HARRISBURG PA – A recent analysis by the Pew Charitable Trust probably made Pennsylvania taxpayers a little queasy, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reasons.

Size of PA's Expensive Legislature Gets A New Look

The state Capitol in Harrisburg

That’s because Pew found the Keystone State pays its lawmakers the second-highest salary in the nation, reporter Andrew Staub wrote Friday (May 30, 2014), behind only California and just one spot ahead of New York. PA legislators draw a base salary of $84,012 and can collect a per diem of $157 on session days.

Those salaries might not change anytime soon, but there is hope for some savings, Staub reported. Lancaster County state Sen. Lloyd Smucker wants to resurrect legislation that would trim the number of state lawmakers, The Independent said.

The House late last year passed legislation sponsored by its speaker, Sam Smith of Jefferson County, to reduce the General Assembly’s ranks by about 25 percent, but it seemingly fell into hibernation when it reached the Senate.

Smucker said Thursday (May 29) it’s time for revive the effort to cut one of the most expensive legislatures in the country. The Senate State Government Committee, which Smucker chairs, will consider proposals to reduce the number of lawmakers, he said.

“The House of Representatives gave this issue a good start by assembling a reasonable bill, debating it at length and approving it. We should not let this chance for historic change slip away,” Smucker said in a statement. “There is sufficient time left in this legislative session to do this, there certainly is wide public support for it and there seems to be the legislative will to move forward.”

The clock is ticking.

Reducing the size of the Legislature would require that an amendment to the state constitution be approved by lawmakers and then by voters in a public referendum. Any proposed change would have to be advertised 90 days before the Nov. 4 General Election, meaning lawmakers have until early August to act.  There are 18 scheduled session days in June before lawmakers break for the summer.

Photo from The Independent

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