Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why are legislators pushing for a smaller legislature now?

We sometimes roll our eyes when politicians talk about cutting the size of legislature. Sure, it sounds good on the campaign trail, but the political realities of life in Harrisburg make it nearly impossible to actually do. After all, lawmakers are usually not enthusiastic about voting to eliminate their own jobs.

Why are legislators pushing for a smaller legislature now?

0 comments

We sometimes roll our eyes when politicians talk about cutting the size of legislature. Sure, it sounds good on the campaign trail, but the political realities of life in Harrisburg make it nearly impossible to actually do. After all, lawmakers are usually not enthusiastic about voting to eliminate their own jobs.

But something real might be stirring in Harrisburg now. Rep. Sam Smith -- who is almost certainly going to be the next Speaker of the House -- said yesterday that he supports the idea of a smaller legislature.

"I've come to the conclusion that a smaller number of members would make the House more manageable," Smith told a room packed with reporters, lawmakers, and lobbyists as he sketched his caucus' agenda for the next legislative session.

Smith's statement is significant enough by itself, but there are even more signs that change may be coming to Harrisburg.

His comments received favorable reviews from a key figure in the state Senate. "It's only a question of how much smaller," Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said Thursday.

Again, the argument to shrink the legislature is nothing new. Pennsylvania's legislature has 253 members, making it the second largest in the nation. The state is also near the top when it comes to the number of staff and salaries for lawmakers. As a result, operating costs for the state legislature are the highest in the nation, costing the state a whopping $322 million in FY09, and the idea of cutting back gets tossed around, usually by advocates.

Why might lawmakers be taking this issue seriously now? First of all, many Republicans campaigned on political reforms, including cutting the size of the legislature. But we also think that cutting the legislature could be a prelude to cutting other things. After all, if Republicans are going to ask the general public to deal with major cuts in the next budget, it only seems fair to cut the size of the legislature as well. Or at least to talk about it.

Follow us on Twitter and review city services on our sister site, City Howl.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

It's Our Money contributors

Tips? Comments? Questions?
Contact:

Holly Otterbein:
215-854-5809
hm.otterbein@gmail.com
@hollyotterbein

It's Our Money
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter