Sunday, May 24, 2015

Philly lawmakers leading the way...on expenses

The PA Independent's monthly review of state lawmakers' per diem expenses shows four Philly lawmakers in the state's top 10 takers.

Philly lawmakers leading the way...on expenses

With Philly schools in crisis and evidently nobody from the city's delegation to the Legislature with the clout or smarts to lead the way to more state involvment in a solution, it's nice to know our elected representatives to Harrisburg are leaders in something.

The online news service PA Independent reports that four of the top 10 takers in per diem expenses, those oh-so-delicious, tax-free, no-receipts-required payments taxpayers provide lawmakers in addition to salary.

The service, which monthy uses right-to-know requests to dig out how much is paid to whom, says payments in June reached the highest levels, so far, this year -- $317,603.

The payments, roughly $163 a-day, are for any claimed expenses, without explanation, related to legislative work (pretending, I assume, there is some) and are in addition to our 253 lawmakers' base pay of $83,800.

The statewide number one monthly taker this time around was Rep. Dominic Costa, D-Allegheny, $3,912.

Philly's top takers, making up 40% of the top-10 list, were:

#5 Michelle Brownlee, $3,579

#6 Mike O'Brien, $3,527

#8 Mark Cohen, $3,298

#9 Stephen Kinsey, $3,253.

I probably don't have to note that all of these public servants are Democrats and, even if you've never heard of one or two of them, I feel certain they're all grateful for your support.

But I'd also note that Republicans know how to make money in public office, too.

Take the state's new chancellor of higher education, Frank Brogan. He was Republican lieutenant governor under Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, then ran the Florida system of higher ed and now has been hired in Pennsylvania.

In addition to his new $327,500 salary here, making him the highest paid state employee, he'll take a lump sum pension payment of $622,000 out of the Sunshine State, PLUS an additional $16,000 a-month in pension from Florida.

So keep those tax dollars (and college tuition payments) coming because we've got a lot of expenses, big salaries and future pension costs to cover.




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

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

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