Not dissipating, just diversifying.
- Governor Rendell stops hedging and goes on the record criticizing the move to take pay-raises early via "unvouchered expenses." Currently 149 out of 253 state legislators are slated to take the early dose.
Lawmakers are receiving the added pay now as reimbursement for expenses, though they don't have to provide proof that they ever spent a dime out of their own pockets. The so-called unvouchered expenses are the same as salary in all respects but name. They are identical in amount, are taxed the same and count toward pensions.Rendell cites a deluge of outraged correspondance and his own [belated] sense of propriety. He also got booed at a recent appearance...
- William Bunch decries the vote-linked demotions as an immoral form of extortion being exercised by party leadership. He doesn't hold out much hope for plans to make such moves illegal, however.
- An Inquirer comment piece says we should thank the legislators who voted for this raise for getting people reinterested in politics at a time when they're usually more focused on firing up the BBQ than in civic activism.
It's a great day when Pennsylvanians can rattle off a legislator's car allowance (up to $650 a month), legislative session per-diem ($128), and annual salary ($81,050) as easily as they can recite Donovan McNabb's passing stats. Why? Because when Election 2006 arrives and incumbents want to say what they are doing for us in Harrisburg, we can ask why we should be doing this for them.Hard to argue with that.
- John Baer reports that it's not just the cranky guy on the street who's upset about the pay-raise, but he's even hearing from disgruntled legislative aides and other insiders.
I get a note from a legislative aide in a leadership office saying that the size of the pay raise (at least 16 percent, twice that for many) is "sickening" given that staff just got a 3.5-percent cost-of-living increase and Gov. Ed once froze wages for 80,000 working-class state employees.He also reviews the wide range of citizen actions and groups growing out of the sense of misplaced priorities.
. . .
I understand a throw-the-bums-out mentality; it's easy from a distance to damn the damn politicians.
But when people who know and work closely with them grouse, people inside the system, then something's going on.
And what's going on is sustained anger against so-called public servants putting themselves ahead of the public they supposedly serve. What's going on is the realization that politicians often powerless to find funds for mass transit, Medicaid, and increased minimum wage show all sorts of power when it comes to finding money for themselves.