Want to save taxpayers a million bucks? Here’s your chance.
PA’s House and Senate are planning to be in session after November’s election – the period between Election Day and November 30 commonly known as lame-duck session. They plan to use that time for “farewell speeches, housekeeping, and caucus reorganization.”
It doesn’t have to happen, and it doesn’t have to cost taxpayers an estimated million bucks or more.
- 86% of PA voters want their lawmakers’ complete voting record to be available before Election Day. That can’t happen if any votes occur after Election Day.
- Lawmakers are in session only two days in the entire month of September and a handful of days in October (eight days in the House; six days in the Senate). There’s plenty of time for farewell speeches, although it’s hard to imagine what benefit taxpayers get from that use of our time and money.
- Housekeeping, whatever that means, does not require the legislature to be in session. We suspect that much or all of it also can be done in September and October. In the past, “housekeeping” has been used as a euphemism for moving legislation.
- Caucus reorganization is when members of the four caucuses (House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans) choose their leaders for the session beginning in January 2013. This is pure partisan politics that taxpayers should not have to pay for. Caucus reorganization does not require the legislature to be in session.
Lawmakers say they won’t pass any laws, but our history tells us that can change at a moment’s notice and without public knowledge.
So why are they having lame-duck session?
By staying in session, lawmakers can collect per diems of $159 per day – including Saturdays and Sundays – charging taxpayers for expenses they may or may not have because they don’t have to document them. Then there are the other expenses of having more than 250 lawmakers in the capital over a two-week or three-week period.
We can avoid that cost to taxpayers if the House and Senate simply adjourn before Election Day. They can save a million bucks without cutting programs that citizens rely on, and they still get an automatic pay raise on December 1.
Photo by andrewpaulcarr
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