Thursday, November 03, 2005

Stunning reversal on pay-raises! Is this for real?

Just yesterday I was pooh-poohing the sincerity of a few state Senators who had an amendment up their sleeves to roll back the unvouchered expenses portion of the summer's legislative pay-hike. Now it appears that they started an avalanche, with the result that both houses have approved a roll-back of the *entire* pay-raise.
For most of yesterday, Senate GOP leaders were preparing an amendment to an unrelated bill that would repeal only the provision of the law that allowed legislators to accept the extra pay immediately - through legislative expense accounts - despite a constitutional ban against their doing so in the middle of a term. That amendment would have kept in place the raises, but they would not have started for most legislators until December 2006.

When it came time to offer amendments yesterday afternoon, Sen. Sean Logan (D., Allegheny), who voted against the pay raise in July, was the first to be recognized. He offered a plan to rescind every detail of the law.

The bill with that amendment passed, 50-0.
However, there are difference between the two versions of the bill, which require ironing out when the legislature reconvenes in two weeks; the House version could bring the whole thing down in the face of a court challenge (not unlikely give that the state constitution apparently bans pay-cuts for judges!) -- is this a back-door route out of the entire show, or a trivial matter to fix and make this really happen? The mind reels.

The Inquirer provides three related resources: a time-line of the pay-hike story, a list of who voted for or against the new measure, and some choice quotes.

Update: John Baer is agog (although with the same back-of-the-mind suspicions as I have).

Update 2: Above Average Jane shares my doubts, but Dan at Young Philly Politics is thrilled with the outcome and only concerned about who's liable to get the credit ...


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