Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Change We Can Believe In

Here's a bill we all can believe in; would that it would pass.

Change We Can Believe In


(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: You know how every so often some member of the state legislature introduces a bill that actually reflects what citizens would like to see as law?

BE: No. No, I don't.

JB: Well, Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster County, put one in just yesterday.

BE: To abolish the legislature?

JB: To kill annual, automatic payraises for the legislature, the executive and the judiciary for the next two years. It's a yearly raise they've all gotten since 1990s.

BE: Like that'll happen.

JB: Well, he's not alone. Others have sponsored such legislation and Brubaker and several other lawmakers give their raises back to the state treasury in the form or personal checks.

BE: Big deal. The raises still pump up their pensions. Plus, you're not suggesting there's hope for this?

JB: No, but I'm saying that the more attention it gets, the more the public is aware of it, that even as most of us take pay cuts and pay more for health insurance, while those we elect to serve us continue to tap tax dollars as if there's no shortage of revenue, that....

BE: Yeah, yeah, I've heard your arguments.

JB: Well, let me ask: is your financial situation better than a few years back? Are you getting automatic annual pay raises?

BE: Have you read anything about the economics of the newspaper industry lately?

JB: My point. And it's not just us. Federal employees are in a freeze. State employees will be asked to take pay cuts. Teachers are being asked to take pay cuts. Why should lawmakers continue to get raises?

BE: You're singing to the choir.

JB: And the choir's right. Reformers and readers all have great ideas to save tax dollars in the legislature: cut its size, cut its staff, end raises, cut per diems, make them pay more than 1 percent of their salaries for health care and...

BE: Wait, wait. Even if all that happened, it would amount to chump change in a $27.3 billion state budget.

JB: Not the point. The point is, it would show citizens that their elected officials actually represent them, have some empathy, are interested in something other than themselves.

BE: Noble thoughts. Still chump change.

JB: Maybe. But it's change we could be believe in. Grrrr.





Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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