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Lawmakers getting another raise; do results match pay?

There is one place where Pennsylvania is a leader among states in our nation — pay for lawmakers and judges.

They will collect another raise in 2020, a salary increase of 1.9 percent which is tied, by state law, 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.

That’s the fancy language.

The simple bottom line is that lawmakers’ base salaries will rise $1,725 to $90,000. They also receive per diems, pensions and health benefits. Gov. Wolf’s salary will go up $3,800 to $201,700. State Supreme Court judges’ pay will rise to $215,000. County court judges will see increases to $186,700.

For lawmakers, the package makes them the third-highest paid legislators in the nation.

So the fair question for all Pennsylvania and particularly taxpayers to ask is, are we getting our money’s worth?

Ask us that during one of those protracted budget negotiations that produce little more than wasted time and our answer is “no.” Ask us that during issues debates that seem to hinge more on what the entire party caucus — Democrat and Republican — think rather than the majority wishes of constituents in particular districts, and again our answer is “no.”

Many people may have reason to believe the Legislature underperforms but their particular lawmakers is doing his or her job as effectively as they can.

Others may have reason to believe the Legislature performs adequately but their own lawmakers are not serving their interests.

All of us have our own checklist on which we evaluate the performance of our own elected lawmakers, the entire Legislature and the governor.

But is the state government product in step with its pay standing of third highest in the nation?

In our view, that’s a stretch.

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