Wednesday, November 21, 2012

About those pols' COLA increases

A few months back, we featured a story as the lead in the Sunday newspaper pointing out the likelihood that our state legislators were in line for pay raises, as well as increases in their benefits packages.

A couple members of the Delco delegation in Harrisburg decided to pay me a visit to talk about the story. They were not happy. They called it the worst kind of “sensationalism.”

What had upset them is their belief that the story gave the impression that legislators had actually voted on these increases. That wasn’t the case, it was merely part of the budget process. They also complained that we ignored some other important aspects of the budget, such as spending cuts for the Legislature, holding the line on taxes, and expansion of the Educational Improvement Trax Credit program.

They wrote an op-ed piece that we ran blistering the newspaper and the story.

I’m not sure what they will call the story in today’s paper.

Lawmakers are getting a 2.2 percent pay hike. You can read all about it here.

No, they didn’t vote for this either. It’s the automatic cost of living increase.

As our story points out, not all our local lawmerks are going to take the increase.

The rank-and-file lawmaker will their salaries rise from $82,026 to $83,802.

I kind of like what state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby is planning to do with his raise. You might remember that last year the Upper Darby School District was in an uproar over a proposal to cut music and their arts from many school curriculums. Micozzie and state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, rode to the rescue by securing $2.7 million in state funds.

Now Micozzie says he will donate his COLA raise to the Shoener Fund, named for beloved Upper Darby music teacher Brad Schoener. It’s one of the organizations raising money to help keep the programs afloat under the umbrella of the Upper Darby Arts and Education Funding.

Two Democrats, Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, and Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, both said they planned to keep the COLA hike. Leach pointed out he didn’t consider it a pay raise.

Could have fooled me.

Sounds like he consulted with his compatriots on the other side of the aisle. No, they didn't vote themselves a raise. But their salary is going up. They are members of one of the nation's largest and most expensive governing bodies.

Cost of living? It's going up, as is our legislators' salaries.

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