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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 9, 2016 03:03 PM
From: Representative John A. Lawrence
To: All House members
Subject: Cosponsor - Citizens Compensation Commission to Set Salaries for Elected Officials

Compensation of legislators is an issue that is constantly debated in the press and the public. News articles about COLAs and compensation are frequent, along with the dozens of right-to-know requests filed with the Chief Clerk's office. Much of the increased public scrutiny around salaries in the General Assembly stems from the 2005 Pay Raise debacle, when legislators voted themselves an immediate pay hike in clear violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution. This subsequent public uproar led to a political earthquake, the ramifications of which are still being felt today.

Putting legislators in charge of determining their own salaries is at best a public image problem, and at worse a clear conflict of interest. As a result, I will be re-introducing legislation establishing the Citizens Compensation Commission. The CCC will be charged with determining salaries for legislators, floor leaders, and the Speaker, and will have sole discretion over any potential future pay increases. The nine-member commission will be appointed by the governor, and include two members who are affiliated with organized labor, two members who own or operate a small business, two members who represent the interests of the taxpayer, one member who is a major corporate executive of a large company, one member who is the head of a non-profit organization, and one member who is a professional in the field of compensation.

This proposal is based on a similar system in the state of California, which was established after voters approved a ballot referendum creating a commission to review government salaries.

By taking the matter of legislators compensation out of the hands of the legislature, we have the opportunity to improve the image of the General Assembly and reaffirm our commitment to the constituents we represent. I would appreciate your support of this proposal.

Introduced as HB446