Lawmakers' pay

Here we go again.

Because it's November -- and because our state lawmakers are so worth it -- it's time to calculate their annual pay raise.

Remember, no matter how well, or even if they perform, all 253 state lawmakers, along with other top state officials are, by law, entitled to annual, automatic pay bumps.

The raises are based on the consumer price index for the Philadelphia metro area for each October, which this year gets announced Nov. 16.

Oh, and it's based on Philly because that's the highest rate in the state, and despite the legislature's long-time loathing of all things Philly, in this one instance they embrace the region. Hey, they write the laws.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News today reports the expected increase to be 3 to 4 percent.

I assume, if you have a job, you'll be getting a similar or higher pay hike. Or not.

Anyway, as is the custom, some lawmakers -- usually back-benchers no one's ever heard of from some distant rural area -- introduce bills to freeze the automatic raise that then get ignored.

In fairness, some lawmakers give the raise back to the state's General Fund and some others donate it to charity, for which, of course, they get tax breaks for giving away your money.

This year, state Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford County (it's way the hell up by Erie, 1,000 square miles with a total population about the same as Center City's), has a freeze-the-raise bill. There likely will be others.

The argument, of course, is salary freezes are the norm from the largest state workers' union to teachers to many in the private sector.

Lawmakers' base pay (exlcuding near-free premium health care, great pensions, per diems and other perks) is now $79,646 with those in the too-many "leadership" posts making much more.

This pay is among the highest in the nation and obviously deserved since about 22 percent of us think the legislature does a good job. (I figure that 22 percent lives in caves and knows nothing about the legislature.)

So get ready for the heady debate over pay. I'm sure THIS year legislative leaders, after cutting millions from education, social services and health insurance for the poor, will decide not to take another raise. After all, they work for us, right? They're first and foremost about doing the will of those who pay them, right? They fully respect the fact that public service is about serving the public, right?

Say it with me...GRRRR!