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Pa Legislative Pay Raise

While inflation has hit Pennsylvanians hard, lawmakers are set to get a hefty raise because of it.

That’s because back in 1995, they passed a law to avoid them having to vote on their own salaries. It adjusts the pay of state representatives and senators, as well as the governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet members, attorney general, auditor general, treasurer, and state and county judges, based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland area.

Right now, that stands at 8.8%. For state lawmakers, already the third highest paid legislature in the U.S. behind New York and California, that would set them up for a nearly $8,400 raise that would push their base salary over $103,800. (That raise would be a little higher for lawmakers in caucus leadership positions.)

The governor would get a more than $18,700 pay raise, to more than $231,700. Though that will not be for current office holder Tom Wolf, who donates his entire salary every year anyway, as he is term-limited and will be replaced by voters.

While inflation has hit Pennsylvanians hard, lawmakers are set to get a hefty raise because of it.

That’s because back in 1995, they passed a law to avoid them having to vote on their own salaries. It adjusts the pay of state representatives and senators, as well as the governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet members, attorney general, auditor general, treasurer, and state and county judges, based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland area.

Right now, that stands at 8.8%. For state lawmakers, already the third highest paid legislature in the U.S. behind New York and California, that would set them up for a nearly $8,400 raise that would push their base salary over $103,800. (That raise would be a little higher for lawmakers in caucus leadership positions.)

The governor would get a more than $18,700 pay raise, to more than $231,700. Though that will not be for current office holder Tom Wolf, who donates his entire salary every year anyway, as he is term-limited and will be replaced by voters.

For comparison: a national study by compensation consulting firm Pearl Meyer found the average American is getting a 4.8% pay bump right now.

During the pandemic, state lawmakers voted unanimously in 2020 to freeze their pay through the next year, an increase that would have amounted 0.8%. Last year, a bill to suspend the 5.6% pay increase for this year never got a vote on the full house floor.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, the chairman of the committee that unanimously approved that bill, said last week he would support another pay freeze.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, who is running for governor, has previously introduced legislation that would end the annual cost-of-living adjustments altogether.

We asked all of our local lawmakers and their press people for their thoughts either in person or via email.

Rep. Brian Smith, R-Jefferson, and Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Cambria, told us they are in favor of a one-year freeze.

“I will advocate to pass the pay raise freeze legislation during session this fall,” Smith said. “It is the right thing to do for the State of Pennsylvania and its citizens.”

“I was through a freeze before so if that’s the direction we go then that’s the direction we go, I don’t have a problem with that if we take a freeze and the situation requires it for us then I’ll accept that.”

A vast majority, however, did not respond to our requests or declined comment.

One of them who did not respond was Rep. Lou Schmitt, R-Blair. Though he did reply back to a request for comment from LNP Media for their recent story.

“I received your email,” LNP reported Schmitt saying in an e-mail. “Now piss off.”

Pennsylvania is one of just 10 state legislatures that is full-time and meets year-round. The other 40 state legislatures only meet during certain time frames.

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