HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State lawmakers are being paid this month even though they are not in session until 2021. However, their paychecks are not as big as they could’ve been.
The Christmas lights are on at the Capitol, but virtually nobody’s home.
“We are technically in limbo. the speaker of the house doesn’t technically exist until we vote on the speaker in January,” Representative Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon County) said.
The legislative session ended Nov. 30, and the new session begins on Jan. 5, 2021. While lawmakers do the limbo, they are getting paid and doing work.
There’s no Christmas tree in the Rotunda this year, and no Christmas gifts for lawmakers. They suspended their automatic cost-of-living raise.
“To have received a cost of living adjustment would have been incredibly tone-deaf,” Phillips-Hill said.
Rank and file lawmakers make just over $90 thousand. Their COLA would’ve been just over $1300. Rep. Ryan’s bill froze, and lawmakers supported it unanimously.
“I believe we have to set the tone as legislators that the commonwealth’s financial position is precarious. we are in grave danger,” Rep. Ryan said. “This budget that we just passed is not a good sign and we have not yet dealt with the day of reckoning of our excessive spending in the Commonwealth.”
Their paychecks are lighter, capitol hallways are darker. Phillips-Hill calls it a calm before the storm.
“Our committees are not up and running, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to take care of constituents and to be ready to go to rock and roll come January 5th,” Phillips-Hill said.
Ryan said, only half-joking, that lawmakers not being here is not necessarily a bad thing.
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