Public service pays pretty well in Pennsylvania

It’s called public service.

And it turns out public service at the highest levels of state government pays off pretty well.

The salaries of Pennsylvania’s 253 state lawmakers, more than 1,000 judges and several dozen top executive branch officials will rise in 2018.

The increase of 0.8 percent is triggered by law, not a vote. It is tied to the year-over-year change in the consumer price index published by the U.S. Department of Labor for urban consumers in the mid-Atlantic region.

The bump took effect last week for lawmakers and goes into effect Jan. 1 for judicial and executive branch officials.

For the record, the highest-paid state government official is state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Saylor, a Republican, whose salary will rise by about $1,600 to $213,750.

Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s salary will rise about $1,500 to $194,850. His office says he donates the money to charity since the law requires him to accept it.

Pennsylvania’s lawmakers, already the second-highest paid in the nation, will see an increase of about $700 to almost $87,200 in base pay. They also receive per diems and the four party floor leaders will each make $126,300.

Heads of the seven largest state agencies will be paid $156,000 next year.

While the pay changes are not triggered by a vote, lawmakers do have discretion regarding the true spirit of public service.

Most workers in Pennsylvania are paid based on their ongoing performance. A lot of them can be forgiven, as they watch annual state budget embarrassments and anguish over a lack of progress on a variety of important issues, if they judge that performance to be lacking.

We hope lawmakers with an effective conscience and awareness and the economic ability to do so will follow the governor’s lead and donate a portion of their salaries to a cause of their choice.

That would be a well-received apology for the annual chaos they have put taxpayers and those directly impacted by the state budget through in recent years.


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