Press Conference: “Pay Raise: Year Five”

Posted by By at 5 July, at 22 : 44 PM Print

Press  Advisory

June 29, 2010

Eric Epstein, Coordinator

Harrisburg, Pa. – On Tuesday July 6, 2010, reform organizations will convene a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda at 11:00 am to discuss the State of Reform and prospects for a Constitutional Convention five years after the infamous Pay Raise debacle of July, 2005.

Featured speakers include Tim Potts, Co-Founder, Democracy Rising PA, Matthew J. Brouillette, President & CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, and Eric Epstein, Coordinator, RocktheCapital.Org

Back story:

The Pennsylvania House and Senate passed Act 44 at 2 a.m., July 7, 2005 increasing the salaries of officials in all three branches of government without public hearings, public debate or public knowledge.

Governor Edward G. Rendell signed the bill that evening, and told the media the following day, “It’s legal [‘unvouchered expenses’] and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Base Salaries in July, 2005 for the rank and file excluding, per diems, perks, PSAs, pensions and paid health insurance; prior to the pay raise, was $69,648 for rank and file.

The pay raise “…increased legislators’ base pay to $81,050 – more than any other state except California – and most lawmakers received more money because of expanded stipends in the bill for leadership or committee posts. Individual members saw raises ranging from 16 to 54 percent.” (The Associated Press, Peter Jackson, How Pa. legislators’ pay raise was born and how it died, September 14, 2006.)

As a result of public pressure, the General Assembly passed and Gov. Ed Rendell signed Act 72 of 2005 repealing the raise on November 16, 2005. Act 72 did not require those who had received increased salaries to return the funds.

In total, 158 lawmakers accepted the raise. Numerous legislators have opted not to repay the “unvouchered expenses” or donated the money to charity. These amounts can be applied toward pension calculations and verified through the State Employees Retirement System.

On September 14, 2006, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that “unvouchered-expenses” violated the state constitution, but did not order recipients to pay the money back. The Court also reinstated the pay raises for themselves and approximately 1,200 judges.

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