Newly elected lawmakers here in Pennsylvania won’t get sworn in to their new jobs until January. But come December 1, they will start collecting a paycheck. Some are saying that isn’t right.
Matt Heckel reported the latest details from Harrisburg.
Starting in December, the base pay for lawmakers is more than $88,000. That comes out to about $7,400 they’ll make in the month of December, despite new lawmakers not even being sworn in until January.
“You can call your new lawmaker, go have a meeting with them, visit with them,” said Nathan Benefield, Commonwealth Foundation. “They’re hiring staff and filling the position. So, they are working.”
Pennsylvania has a full-time legislature, meaning lawmakers get paid evenly throughout the year, whether they are in session or not.
“I think the bigger question is, does Pennsylvania need a full-time legislature? Do we need to be paying them year round?” said Benefield.
Nathan Benefield with the Conservative Commonwealth Foundation points to a state like Texas, that has a bigger population, but only a part time legislature that only meets a few times per month.
“That’s been a better model, more effective legislature,” said Benefield. “Both in terms of the cost to tax payers, but even for better governance.”
“This is a fork in the road,” said Eric Epstein. “You can either take pay for work you didn’t perform and get ingrained into the system where you’re compromised, or you can take a stand.”
Eric Epstein, with the watchdog group Rock the Capital is calling on new lawmakers to not collect a paycheck until they’re sworn in next year.
“And say, ‘I am not going to take pay for work I didn’t perform, donate it to charity, and by the way, we’re going to cosponsor legislation that gets rid of this ridiculous practice’,” said Epstein.