HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — In December 2022, Pennsylvania state representatives got an automatic pay increase to $103,000, but are yet to have a productive session in Harrisburg.
Mark Twain once joked that your wallet is safe when Congress is not in session, but lawmakers at the State House are gridlocked, can’t agree on how to start the year, and are out of session. However, there is still tax payer money at play here.
“I’d say it’s ridiculous,” said Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington).
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Kail has been holding hearings for Republicans on topics primarily pushed by Republicans. The GOP says it wants to work, but Democrats accuse them of grandstanding.
“We’ve got to start working, got to get organized, got to come to work, and got to start doing the people’s work here in Pennsylvania,” Kail added.
The House Freedom Caucus tried a questionable and unseen tactic, getting 100 Republican signatures to force a return to session. Republicans needed 101 signatures to force a return to session; Dauphin County’s Tom Mehaffie was the single Republican holdout.
Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York), who heads the Freedom Caucus, said this about Mehaffie.
“Are you going to stick with Republicans on procedural things or aren’t you? If you’re not, I guess you’re not part of the caucus right? So you need to pick a horse and ride it,” said Keefer. “If you’re not going to allow us to get back to work because you’re lining up with the Democrats, so you should caucus with the Democrats, right? If they’ll allow you to caucus with them.”
House Democrats seem to prefer to wait until the end of February, after the special elections that should give them a majority are held. Democrats, however, reject the idea that they are not earning their paychecks.
“I believe everyone is working,” said Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia). “It’s a false statement to say we’re not working because we’re not in session. Going into session is not the only thing we do. There are policy hearings, there’s legislation that needs to be drafted and meetings that need to be had.”
With six-figure salaries, these lawmakers are certainly getting an honest day’s pay. Whether they are doing an honest day’s work depends on who you ask.
“We can’t just shut the House down when one side doesn’t like the numbers and the other side does. We have work to do and the people should demand that we do it,” said Kail.
Mehaffie allegedly angered some of his Republican colleagues, who were considering disciplinary action against him. Mehaffie did not return several calls seeking comment.