Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DePasquale to introduce bill to end COLAs

A state House member says he is preparing to introduce a bill banning automatic annual raises for lawmakers.

DePasquale to introduce bill to end COLAs


UPDATE - Gov.-elect Tom Corbett will donate his new cost-of-living raise to charity, says his spokesman Kevin Harley. As Attorney General Corbett, Corbett gave up his 2009 and 2010 pay raises, sending that money back to state coffers instead, Harley said.

A state House member says he is preparing to introduce a bill immediately that would end automatic annual raises for lawmakers.

Rep. Eugene DePasquale (D., York) says it is unfair during a recession to allow automatic cost of living increases (or COLAs) for members of the General Assembly when millions of people on Social Security, for instance, are seeing their benefits frozen.

"When the consumer price index goes down, we don't take a pay cut and yet we cut everything else in the budget and we get a pay raise," said DePasquale. He said he wants to return to the old system of voting on pay raises periodically.  "We'll have hearings. We'll vote during the day. It'll be a much more transparent process."

DePasquale is among several lawmakers who have said they will decline the 1.7 percent COLA. He says he hopes to have his bill ready for introduction when the legislature reopens for business on Wednesday, and the day the raises take effect for lawmakers.

The COLA raises pay for most lawmakers by $1,308 to an annual salary of $79,623. (Salaries for the four legislative floor leaders, for example, will rise from $113,468 to $115,364.)

That means many newly elected lawmakers - and Gov.-elect Tom Corbett  - will receive pay raises before they have started work. Corbett will make $177,888, when he takes office on Jan. 18, up from $174,914. Gov. Rendell has not taken a raise since 2008. Corbett's spokesman has not responded inquiries about whether he will take the raise.

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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