Reforming the Legislature
Only four states in the nation have a full-time legislature, and Pennsylvania is one of them.
Defenders of the full-time legislature argue that Pennsylvania is a large state with a wide array of complex issues to continually address, such as education, transportation, energy, agriculture, health care, crime, the environment, and more. But Texas, which has more than double Pennsylvania’s population and is four times the size of the Keystone State geographically, has a part-time legislature.
Moreover, Pennsylvania’s legislators are in session only 70-90 days a year, yet they collect a $79,000 base salary, are fully reimbursed for mileage, and receive a gold-plated health care plan for which they pay very little (1% of salary). They also receive a golden parachute pension that is paying retired Senate Minority Leader $330,000 annually.
Additionally, lawmakers who live more than 50 miles from the Capitol are eligible to collect a tax-free, daily supplemental payment of $163 for food and lodging during legislative session. Making the General Assembly part-time would save the taxpayers as much as $20 million a year with no reduction in the effectiveness of state government, as Texas and other large states have shown.
- A part-time legislature with part-time pay to match, and no pension.
- A restoration of the founding tradition of term limits to re-instate the concept of a “citizen legislature.”
- Opening every account in the General Assembly—including the notoriously secretive slush funds controlled by legislative leaders—to an independent audit.
- An end to taxpayer-funded radio and television advertisements, newsletters, roadmaps, children’s coloring books and other goods and services that are not the proper domain of government but which legislators use to get themselves re-elected.