HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Christmas is coming early for more than a thousand public officials who will get an automatic raise of 5.67% and taxpayers will foot the bill.
“I don’t think the optics are good I am a CPA and the financial viability of this commonwealth is not good,” State Representative Frank Ryan (R – Lebanon County) said.
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Rep. Ryan succeeded last year in pausing the automatic cost of living increase. His bill to forego the COLA passed. He tried the same thing this year.
“It made it through the State Government Committee 25 to 0, so it was unanimously adopted, it never moved on second,” Rep. Ryan said.
The bill disappeared, but inflation did not. The 5.6% is tied to the consumer price index in Philadelphia and it is higher than anyone can remember. It is not just salary. It spikes pensions and per diems, too. Total price tag?
“You’re looking probably in the neighborhood of $20 – $25 million,” Rep. Ryan said.
Some examples include rank and file lawmakers receiving a $51 bumper to above $95,000 a year. Governor Tom Wolf, who donates his check, will nonetheless get a raise of more than $11,000 to bump the yearly up to $213,000.
Wolf’s cabinet secretaries will make just over $145,000 now and will jump to nearly $153,500. Supreme Court justices will be supremely rewarded after a bump over more than $12,000. Their yearly will be north of $227,000.
“It highlights the disconnect between those that rule and those that are ruled,” Eric Epstein, Rock the Capital, said.
Government watchdog, Epstein, wants to abolish the COLA and create a compensation commission. During the pandemic, he wonders if anyone earned a whopping raise.
“Many people lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their lives, and these guys are getting rewarded, and you have to ask yourself for what,” Epstein asked.
It’s worth noting that the same index will increase social security payouts by 5.9% next year.
Rep. Ryan does not take a pension and will return the full amount of his COLA to the general fund. He encourages other lawmakers to do the same.