ShareThis Page

Downsize the Pa. Legislature: Whack! Whack! Whack!

| Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

State House Speaker Sam Smith, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and Sen. Elder Vogel deserve credit for trying — yet again — to shrink the General Assembly.

But unless public pressure rises dramatically, their bills — like all previous attempts to reverse the bloat inherent in America's second-largest state legislature — will fail.

Paying 253 full-time members who get lavish perks and pensions in addition to salaries of at least $83,802 annually and employing 2,600-plus staffers, the General Assembly costs Pennsylvanians far more than lawmaking should. New proposals from Mr. Smith, R-Punxsutawney, would shrink the House from 203 members to 153, the Senate from 50 to 38.

Mr. Pileggi, R-Delaware County, and Mr. Vogel, R-Beaver County, are co-sponsoring a bill to reduce the total to 151 in both chambers, which Vogel estimates would save taxpayers $115 million.

Smith's proposing separate bills for House and Senate reduction because too many lawmakers are willing to cut only others' seats, not their own: Last year, a House-shrinking bill he pushed through his own chamber died in the Senate over House-added Senate cuts — despite a poll showing 62 percent of Pennsylvania voters favored a smaller House and Senate.

What's needed is for the public to hold more legislators' feet closer than ever to a fire hotter with indignation than any to date — and to do so as long as it takes for the General Assembly's self-protecting career politicians to heed the people's will.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.