Guest Editorial | Country’s Highest-Paid State Lawmakers Get Salary Rise | Editorials
The editorial appeared in The (Sunbury) Daily Item, a CNHI newspaper. This does not necessarily reflect the opinion of La Tribune-Démocrate.
Thanks to a 1995 state law that tied the salaries of lawmakers, judges, and senior executives to the annual change in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index, lawmakers in Pennsylvania just received an increase record salary.
The hike will bring the annual salaries of base lawmakers to $ 95,432, from $ 90,335.
The extra taxpayer money will increase the wages of those who sit in the country’s second largest state legislature – 253 members (203 in the State House and 50 in the State Senate) – who earn the third-highest annual base salary for state legislators across the country, behind only California ($ 114,877) and New York ($ 110,000), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
If there had been no change in the cost of living, wages would have remained unchanged.
Since the law was enacted, only three times have they not received a salary increase – 2010, 2016 and last year.
The NCSL ranks the Pennsylvania State Legislature as one of four states that have legislators considered “full-time” and “well-paid” with “large staff.” The others are California, Michigan and New York.
On the other end of the spectrum are four states – Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming – that have “part-time” lawmakers who receive “low wages” and have “small staff. According to the NCSL analysis on full employment. and part-time state legislatures.
Overall, the number of elected lawmakers in each state ranges from a minimum – 49 in Nebraska – to a maximum – 424 in New Hampshire. Georgia has 236 elected legislators, New York 213, Minnesota 201, Massachusetts 200, and Missouri 197.
Last year, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a law to freeze their wages, even though they were entitled to a raise. They said they did so in recognition of the financial hardships many Pennsylvanians were facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bill to freeze this new 2022 salary increase died in House committee earlier this year.
It’s a shame at a time when most residents of Pennsylvania – those who pay lawmakers’ salaries through their state taxes – are facing the lingering effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in addition to rapid consumer inflation affecting almost every aspect of their financial life.
Pennsylvania lawmakers, at the very least, should have frozen all automatic state government pay increases this year.
Perhaps they should take a cue from elected state lawmakers in New Hampshire, who each earn an annual salary of $ 100.