In recent polling, the Pew Research Center found that 71 percent of Americans believe that government officials DO NOT care about what they think. The vast majority of people that we hear from share that belief. The public points to outrageous salaries, healthcare paid for by taxpayers, and a revolving door between elected officials, lobbying jobs, and appointments to lucrative government jobs.
Pennsylvania is famous or infamous depending on your perspective regarding politicians “taking care of” friends and family at taxpayer expense. Most Boards and Authorities created by the legislature include seats to be filled by the “leadership” of the House, Senate, and the Governor. Many of those seats come with a high salary and little observable work. One example of a Board packed with former lawmakers is the PA Gaming Control Board (GCB).
Of the seven Board members, three are former lawmakers. One of those lawmakers is former-Representative Frank Dermody (D-33), who lost his reelection bid in November. The fact that his salary went up to $145,000 probably gives Dermody some consolation. Former lawmakers aren’t the only ones to benefit from spots on the GCB.
Last week, we learned that Jake Corman (R-34), President pro tempore of the Senate, named Frances Regan to the GCB. Mrs. Regan is the wife of Senator Mike Regan (R-31). Between his Senate salary and her GCB salary, the Regan’s are now collecting over a quarter-million dollars per year in government salaries. When you consider that lawmakers only pay 2 percent of their annual salary for medical coverage, it paints an even worse picture. And, according to a 2019 news story, Senator Regan stayed in the lucrative legislative pension program (which is underfunded by $78 billion) instead of opting into a 401-k type plan. Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Regan will also be collecting two federal pensions on top of everything else due to their time working for the federal government. At what point is enough taxpayer money enough?
How likely is that out of 12 million Pennsylvanians, Mrs. Regan was the most qualified person in the state? It certainly looks like this is another case of politicians taking care of themselves and their friends at taxpayers’ expense.
Is it any wonder that the public believes that elected officials are only in it for themselves? With numbers like these, it’s hard to argue anything else in this case.