- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
John Baer on PA Legislators' Greed
John Baer, Daily News Columnist, has really been very good lately. He has spent a lot of ink on the legislative pay fiasco, where our legislators gave themselves a huge raise at budget time.
In the comments section of the old site, Mark Cohen defended the move, to my mind in a very unsatisfactory way. (But, to his credit, he was at least willing to try and defend the move, unlike many of his colleagues.)
As Baer notes, this is an issue of symbolism:
So at the same time lawmakers reduce access to health care to tens of thousands of poor, sick and disabled citizens they are sworn to protect, they get themselves more money.
Let's be clear, in the grand scheme of thing, this pay raise will not break the bank. But, that is wholly unimportant. What the raise shows, is just how out of touch so many of our reps are, even those who are generally our reliable allies and advocates.
Why does this matter? Let me count the ways:
Giving yourself a raise, while hurting those who can least afford it: The bottom line is that all budgets are not created equal. Yes, money is always tight. But this year our representatives cut funding for the poorest, chronically ill PA residents. To give yourself a raise at the same time, is simply amazing. To tell people in PA that they have to sacrifice, all while making life more comfortable for yourself, is simply wrong.
Conducting business in the dead of night: The raise was passed in the dead of night, with no debate whatsoever. Philly reps complain about "stealth resolutions" that are not debated, and passed when no one notices. The timing of this raise, right as the House can disappear for a few months, is not a coincidence. And, the fact that there was no debate on the House or Senate floor is another cop out.
Flouting the Law: Maybe most obnoxious, is that PA House and Senate members are flouting their own damn laws. As a small protection against greed, the legislature passed a law that said that if politicians voted themselves a raise, it would not kick in until the next term begins, or in this case 2006. But, our Reps said show us the money!, and are giving themselves the raise anyway, in direct violation of the law, all by calling it "vouchered expenses."
The pay raise doesn't anger me, so much as it saddens me. Why? Because far too many politicians who I respect voted for this, and showed an appalling lack of understanding on why this makes people so mad.