Newly elected lawmakers to receive paychecks before being sworn in

Local News

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.

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