Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PA lobbyists spend half-a-billion$

A Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report shows lobbyists in the state Capitol spend big money on special interests.

PA lobbyists spend half-a-billion$

Want something done or stopped in your state Capitol?

Gonna cost ya.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Harrisburg lobbying expenses -- at least those actually filled with the state -- topped a half-billion dollars in 2013.

The total was $518 million. It's the highest amount ever reported. And it's $100 million more than the amount reported in 2010.

(You can read the full Tribune-Review article here.)

The costs cover lobbyists' salaries, travel and the care and feeding of the largest full-time legislature in America -- which, by the by, costs YOU $280 million a-year to operate while it sits on $154 million in "reserve" funds that YOU also provide.

The lobbying expenses represent self-reporting by those arguing for more than 100 special interests.

The newspaper says the highest expenses annually are filed by lobbyists for health care, energy, education, Medicaid and Medicare and taxation.

So, you know, I guess the rest of us have the best possible health care and energy policies, education system, federal aid and tax structure. Or not.

And since self-reporting works so well in any area connected to politics, imagine what the actual costs might be.

For example, arguably the most active opponent of liquor privatization, Wendell Young IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers 1776 union, is not a registered lobbyists and therefore files no expenses.

The newspaper quotes Young saying he's exempt because he's paid for being the head of union, not for being a lobbyist.

One can only guess how many other "non-lobbyists" aren't filing lobbying expenses either, eh?

(Last year, reported lobbying expenses on liquor privatization topped $5 million, according to the Tribune-Review.)

And look at the results. Year after year things stay the same. Same issues going nowhere. Same problems facing citizens. Seems the only real change is the cost of the status quo. It's going up.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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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