State lawmakers will have a nice Christmas gift waiting for them next month.
Starting December 1, they’ll be getting an automatic pay raise. Now some are calling for these raises to come to an end.
State law requires an automatic pay increase for Pennsylvania lawmakers, judges, and top executive officials. Their annual salaries increasing by thousands.
“The automatic pay raise is legalized theft,” said Eric Epstein.
Epstein, with the state watchdog group Rock the Capital, has been an outspoken critic of the state’s automatic Cost of Living Adjustments or COLA for state lawmakers, judges, and top executive branch officials for years.
“We should go back to where we were prior to 1995,” said Epstein. “And if the legislators want a pay raise, put it before the voters.”
State lawmakers, already the second highest paid in the country will get a 1.6 percent increase in 2019. For most, that means a $1,400 raise to a base pay of $88,600, not including per diems. Lawmakers in leadership positions will see their salaries rise to upward of $138,000.
“The core problem is that most people, whether they’re working or retired, don’t get a cost of living adjustment,” said Epstein. “And every time you raise your pay automatically, you distance yourself from the people you supposedly represent.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Saylor’s salary will rise by about $3,400 to $217,000. Governor Wolf gets a $3,100 raise to $198,000, though he donates it to charity. Epstein is now calling on the next legislature to get rid of the raises.
“If the true freshman coming in are true reformers, they’ll abolish the COLA in 2019,” said Epstein.
The raises take effect December 1 for lawmakers and January 1 for judicial and executive branch officials.