Cut legislative corruption in Pennsylvania at its roots
America's largest full-time state Legislature will keep Pennsylvania known as the State of Corruption until and unless Pennsylvanians demand that lawmaking revert to the part-time pursuit it once was and should be.
Pennsylvania's 253 full-time lawmakers have a budget of $277 million, about 2,700 staffers, salaries of $84,012 to $131,129, generous pensions and health coverage, state-paid cars and per diems with little accountability. They are rewards so lavish that too many members are tempted to break the law to further enrich themselves and/or retain their seats, with 15 who've served accused of corruption since 2007, including two this year.
The Legislature morphed from part time to full time after voters approved a constitutional change from two-year to annual budgets in 1959. Lawmakers spent more time in Harrisburg, hired more staff and opened Capitol and district offices. Combined with longtime “machine politics,” the full-time Legislature's corruption scandals leave many Pennsylvanians feeling “this is how politics works,” says Muhlenberg College political scientist Christopher Borick.
Rep. Tim Krieger, R-Hempfield, who has been urging a return to part-time status for three sessions, says his bill “will never move until the public says, ‘We want it,' and the public hasn't said that yet.”
But only strong, sustained public pressure will end the full-time lawmaking that has led to the pursuit of full-time corruption.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Saturday essay: The picking question
- Revolving doors: Self-protection
- Opening the Armstrong County locks: Get the job done
- Corbett & taxes: Cue the tap dance
- Carnegie Free Library’s advocate: A role model & more
- Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
- School funding canard: Money isn’t the answer
- The Box
- Tuesday essay: Sophie
- Rick Perry’s indictment: The real abuse