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Politicians perks

Discussion in 'Political Debate & Discussion' started by Salty, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club

    Apr 8, 2003
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    Thought you might find the following interesting:

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

    HARRISBURG -- State legislators' car leases, health insurance, and per diems are not forbidden by the Pennsylvania constitution, a six-judge panel ruled yesterday.

    Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp, who filed ... suit based his claim on the constitution providing for legislators to receive "salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever" and prohibiting mid-term raises.

    Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr., ..., suggested Mr. Stilp is interpreting the section too literally.

    The state Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the section to "prohibit only 'salary' and 'mileage' increases during a legislative term," Judge Simpson wrote.

    "Although language ... could support a conclusion ... legislators should not receive anything of value beyond 'salary and mileage,' ... declined by the Supreme Court and ... has not been the law ... for the last 125 years."

    Mr. Stilp, though, says the constitution is clear.

    "It's plain to any third-grader. It says, legislators shall receive 'salary and mileage ... and no other compensation whatever,'" ...he plans to appeal. "That's the contract between the legislators and the citizens of Pennsylvania. It says salary and mileage and nothing else, but
    [legislators] try to fit all these other things into it."

    He argued ...lawmakers are not entitled to other benefits such as the $141 ...for every day spent in Harrisburg in addition to their salaries.

    The court disagreed.

    Meanwhile, the court declined to rule on two aspects ...leadership accounts and so-called "walking-around money" but left open the possibility for Mr. Stilp to ask for reconsideration.

    The court said Mr. Stilp did not provide enough information on funds in legislative leadership accounts, which he says have been improperly accumulating instead of being returned to the general fund at the end of each year.

    Mr. Stilp also objects to the use of "walking-around money," ... or grants legislative leaders give to rank-and-file to ... community organizations and causes in their district. Mr. Stilp says WAMs constitute ... perks because members benefit through publicity and good will that helps their re-election campaigns.

    Steve McNett, chief counsel for the Senate Republican caucus, said there has been no abuse of leadership accounts or WAMs.

    "We will promptly make another filing, ... these provisions are thoroughly constitutionally and in accord with the law," he said.

    Mr. McNett expects legislators to win on that point, too.

    "This was a suit where Mr. Stilp threw in all the various items he had complaints about,..." Mr. McNett said. "This is just another piece of frivolous litigation brought by Gene Stilp."

    In the past two years Mr. Stilp has filed three suits against the Legislature and its leaders

    #1 Salty, Nov 14, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2006