2011-12-01 / Local & State

Pa. Lawmakers To Get 3 Percent Raise Next Week

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – State lawmakers in Pennsylvania willgeta3percent pay raise starting next week, pushing the annual salary for rank- and- file legislators above $80,000 for the first time.

The automatic cost-of-living adjustment, which is based on the rate of inflation, means legislators will now earn $82,026, up from the current $79,623, according to a story in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The four legislative cau- cus leaders will now earn $118,845 per year, up from $115,364.

Raises for top executive branch and judicial positions take effect Jan. 1. The governor's annual salary will rise to $183,250, from $177,888.

However, Gov. Tom Corbett has decided to retain the 2010 rate of $174,914, and will donate his raise to charity. It was not immediately clear which organization(s) he would support.

“I have not taken the raise, will not take the raise,” Corbett said earlier this week.

The cost- of-living increase stems from a law approved in the mid-1990s. But those who reject the raise will still see the extra funds in their paychecks, which also will boost their eventual pension. They must either write a check to return the money to state government, or donate it to another group.

Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford, introduced a measure in early November that would reverse that rule only for the state House of Representatives.

“We had a tough state budget last year and this year's is looking difficult again,” Roae said in a statement. “It would be extremely arrogant for state representatives to accept a pay increase at a time like this.”

Still, Franklin & Marshall College pollster G. Terry Madonna said he doesn't expect legislators to take much criticism for the raise.

“Most people are not even aware of the (cost-of-living adjustment),” Madonna said. “There’s no pressure on them.”

That was not the case several years ago, when lawmakers approved pay raises for themselves, judges and executive branch officials in the dead of night in July 2005.

The law triggered intense public backlash and was later repealed, but more than a dozen legislators lost their re-election bids as a result.

The state Supreme Court later reinstated only the judges' higher pay.

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