Monday, July 11, 2005

My friend Frenchy L'Amour, who posts at the All Spin Zone asked that I edit and cross-post this but about Pennsylvania's self-sacrificing legislators.

PA pols give themselves double-digit raises

HARRISBURG - Without a word of debate, in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, state legislators voted themselves a double-digit pay increase before hurriedly leaving the Capitol for their 10-week summer recess.

"We deserve it," Rep. Frank Oliver (D., Phila.) said as he walked out the House chamber at 2 a.m. moments after the body voted, 119-79, for the raise. "See what time we are getting out right now. We work long hours sometimes."

Minutes later, the Senate voted, 27-23, for the bill, which would increase the pay for back-benchers by 16 percent, with leaders getting much more.

I called up Frank Oliver's office here in Philly. No one answered the phone, just a message machine that said no one was available. It's hard work to pass legislation at 2:00 AM when no one's looking and then hurrying off to the shore. Yup, that sure is some hard fucking work.

The legislation ties the salaries for the governor, cabinet secretaries, judges, lawmakers and other officeholders to the pay scales for similar federal -level posts. Lawmakers, for example, will get $81,050, half of a Congress member's salary.

That's $11,402 more than the $69,648 they now get. But that's just the base pay.

Under the legislation, for the first time in Pennsylvania, committee chairman will make more - 55 percent of the salary of a member of Congress, or $89,155. Committee vice chairs and heads of subcommittees will make 52.25 percent of a member of Congress, or $85,103.

"Fifty-five percent of a congressman?" said John Taylor (R., Phila.), who chairs the House Urban Affairs Committee and voted for the bill. "I work as hard as they do."

Those in leadership roles will make even more.

The top two legislators, the house speaker and the Senate president pro tem, John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) and Robert Jubelirer (R., Blair), respectively, will each make $145,553 - a 34 percent bump.

Could someone please tell me exactly what John Perzel has done for me lately that's earned him a 34% payraise?

Cus so far I've seen his legislature violate Philly's home rule charter by seizing the schools, the parking authority, and the convention center.

In the case of the Parking Authority, the party that's committed to getting the government off your back raised fees, increased metered parking to midnight instead of 9:00 PM, and welched on its promise to use the increased revenue to help Philly's schools. In the case of the schools, we got Edison, which has been an abject failure. SO FUCK YOU PERZEL YOU FUCK. The only 34% raise you deserve is 34% of my boot up your fat ass.

They brought us, in standard inequitable fashion, casino gambling, giving property tax breaks to everyone but Philadelphia. For us, in return for accepting the crime, prostitution, and general urban decay that comes with casinos, we get (gasp) a break in our already too-high wage taxes (4.331%). How much? Well, I can't rightly tell you that: I've googled and googled and can't find an exact number, not even at the City's home page (where half of the gambling related links are obsolete and link to "article not found", again a waste of taxpayer money) or the state's.
I DID find out that whether relief pans out is a matter of speculation:

The Property Tax Plan
Property tax rebate: Revenue from slot machines would reduce school property taxes, except in Philadelphia. For homeowners to receive any breaks, their school districts have to take part in Act 72. Those districts must agree not to raise property taxes above an inflationary index.

One caveat: For homeowners to qualify for the tax break, participating districts have to impose a 0.1 percent income tax on all wage earners. Renters would have to pay that wage tax, but would not qualify for property-tax relief.

City wage cut: Philadelphians will not get property tax breaks or pay the 0.1 percent tax. Instead, all those who live and work in Philadelphia will receive a wage-tax cut.

Tax cuts: On average, homeowners' annual school-tax bills would be reduced by about $300, based on estimates of slot revenue. To see what the savings would be in specific districts, go to

Anyway, back to our legislators in Harrisburg, good warm-hearted men and women brimming with support for the poor and the elderly.

Perzel, one of the bill's chief architects, said he had no idea what he would be making. "Honest. I haven't looked," he said.

Riiiight. You helped write the bill, but you didn't do the math. You're either a liar, or so irresponsible with money you have no business sitting in the legislature.

And here's a classic line from a Blackwell:
Rep. Thomas Blackwell (D. Phila.) said he hadn't heard "one negative thing" about the raise from his constituents.

I hope that I changed that. I called him at his digs on N. 52nd Street and gave his staff an earful.

Listen folks, I just sat on hold with CHIP (insurance for kids whose parents can't afford to pay themselves) for an hour because their website (which my taxes paid for) doesn't work. I was on hold for so long because their customer service reps (who my taxes pay for) don't know how the online system works. They suggested I go to the welfare office in my district, which is what the website is supposed to alleviate. The schools in this city suck. The public transit is a joke (shall I begin mocking the 15 trolley again, or do we all know that story by now). The streets department lets potholes fester for so long that people fill them with garbage and broken appliances (no lie!). Our legislators, the goddamn MAJORITY in the US Congress, can't even keep a fucking air force base open.

In short, Pennsylvania's legislators reward their failure to do anything for the city or the state with a fat fucking pay raise. Is it any wonder the state's population is shrinking, that people don't want to stick around in glorious Philadelphia?
"We deserve it! We work long hours sometimes"
Fuck you, Frank. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.


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