Saturday, November 28, 2015

State Rep. Cohen mum on whether he will return his raise

Philadelphia Democrat Mark Cohen won't answer whether he will return his 2.8 percent cost-of-living-adjustment as other leaders of his party have done.

State Rep. Cohen mum on whether he will return his raise



Don’t bother asking State Rep. Mark Cohen whether he, like each and every one of the other House Democratic leaders, is giving back his cost-of-living-adjustment that kicked in Monday.

He’s not saying. In fact, the Philadelphia Democrat might just walk away if you pursue it.

That’s what I found out yesterday.

After top Democratic leaders in the House announced late Tuesday that they were foregoing the 2.8 percent COLA, I stopped by Cohen’s Capitol office. He’s been in leadership since 1990, and currently served as Caucus Chairman.

He wasn’t there, so I left a message. No response.

I tried calling. Still no response.

Yesterday, in the basement of the Capitol, I ran into Cohen and told him I had reached out twice, unsuccessfully.

“I respect your right to make phone calls,” he told me. I then asked if he was going to give back the COLA. He turned from me, without answering, and walked away.

He is now making $94,949 -- $2,600 of which comes courtesy of the annual COLA.

A source told me that when House Democratic leaders were deciding early this week whether to give the money back, Cohen argued against the move.

Cohen is the odd man out.

The seven others in the House Democratic leadership ranks – from presumptive House Speaker Keith McCall of Carbon County to Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans of Philadelphia -- have publicly announced they will return the extra cash given the struggling economy and ballooning state budget deficit.

Cohen, some might recall, is not shy from spending freely when it comes to public dollars.

He has routinely been among the top lawmakers when it comes to racking up state meal and lodging reimbursements and spent more than $28,000 of tax dollars to buy 800 plus books in 2004 and 2005.


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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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