Activists say Capitol has changed little since 2005 pay raise

The names have changed, but everything else has stayed the same.

That’s the case made by the government reform groups Rock the Capitol and Democracy Rising PA in their seventh annual report on the 2005 legislative pay raise - this year's cover unabashedly features a cartoon of Gov. Corbett in a Marilyn Monroe get-up and titled “The Seven Year Itch.”

The most recent report, released today, centers on the actions of state legislators who took the ill-fated pay raise, including those no longer in office. It includes information on pensions, per diems and information on whether or not lawmakers returned money taken after the June vote and before the raises went into effect.

After a massive public outcry, the pay raise was repealed six months later.

Advocates contend the legislature has not learned from its mistakes.

“Basically nothing has changed. We got new rules, but rules were made to be broken,” said Eric Epstein, coordinator of Rock The Capitol. “We have still had sessions until 2 o’clock in the morning.”

Tim Potts, co-founder of Democracy Rising PA, said the recent suspension of legislative rules for passing the budget, reminiscent of the 2 a.m. pay raise, along with the money dispensed in pensions and per diems to legislators, made it evident that the legislature had not changed.

“Every deadline crisis is a manufactured crisis to keep legislators acting like sheep and keep citizens as in the dark as possible,” Potts said.

The report, presented by Epstein and Potts today, centers on the actions of legislators who took the 2005 pay raise, including those no longer in office. It included information on pensions, per diems and information on whether or not they returned money from the 2005 pay raise.

Epstein said that Philadelphia lawmakers are among the worst offenders.

“The delegation most unresponsive to reform is based in Philadelphia,” Epstein said. “It seems the legislators in Philadelphia don’t feel that voters will punish them.”

Potts said his group has begun distributing surveys to all legislative candidates running in November to gauge their support for proposed legislative reforms. Those include bans on gifts from lobbyists, limits on campaign contributions and allowing for recall votes of elected officials.

The report is available on the website of Rock The Capital at

 -Michael Macagnone



Click here for's politics page.