Sunday, June 18, 2006

174: "The Failure of State Government"

It is now one month after the Primary Election. The following list of demands for action on the part of the General Assembly have not been acted upon:
  • Senators Brightbill and Jubelirer are still in their leadership posts.
  • Speaker Perzel is still Speaker.
  • Senator Fumo is still in leadership.
  • None of the returned money from the unvouchered expenses of last summer’s pay raises has been sent to the Pennsylvania Treasury’s General Fund, and we simply do not know if pay records and retirement records have been adjusted accordingly.
  • No bills have been introduced requiring all who still have not repaid the unvouchered expenses to do so immediately or have their pay stopped until the money has been deducted in full, with interest from their pay.
  • Institute a fine of $1,000 per month [payable to the Commonwealth General Fund] for any member who has not fully returned any and all unvouchered expense money starting for the month of July. Deduct the fine directly from the legislator's paycheck effective the last day of each month the debt remains unsatisfied. This fine is not tax deductible against any tax.
  • No moratorium has been issued to the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board prohibiting them from issuing any licenses of any kind for one year.
  • No legitimate tax reform has been enacted.
  • No legitimate lobbying reform has been proposed.
We would add these few to the list:
  • Immediately cancel all contracts paid for with taxpayer money that provide Public Relations, legal advice or advisory services to any and all members of the General Assembly, its committees, caucuses, or groups.
  • Prohibit the enactment of any and all legislation that would automatically provide for an annual pay raise for the General Assembly. Repeal any legislation currently in force. This forces the legislature to vote for every pay raise separately, and to do so only for the next session. OR
  • Pass a Constitutional amendment permanently linking increases in the pay of members of the General Assembly, the Administration, and the Courts to the same raises given to state employees in the two unions with the largest representation of state employees, under their contracts. The aforementioned group to have the same retirement benefits as the state employees, such money to come from a common fund. This would simplify retirement fund management for the entire state. The aforementioned group to have the same healthcare benefits as the state employees. [This amendment would create one of the largest pension funds in the country, enhancing its attractiveness to investors, giving it greater security against failure, and providing greater benefits to all state employees from the Governor down. The same goes for the Healthcare Benefits. This amendment would create an enormous healthcare base-pool providing greater bargaining power with healthcare providers. Indeed, it may become feasible to no longer contract out to healthcare corporations, but to commence state management of the benefits.]
  • Reduce extra pay for leadership to a maximum of $2000 per year, which is a stipend, and not part of regular pay, therefore, not countable toward retirement benefits.
  • Enforce draconian cuts in Caucus staff. Enforce drastic cuts in legislative staff.
  • Eliminate per diems.
  • Eliminate all lobbying by other than non-profit organizations registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Pennsylvania Citizens, or individual owners or corporate executives wishing to do business in Pennsylvania (this excludes those businesses wishing to do business with the Commonwealth, which would have to submit to a bidding process through the State Department of General Services.) No expenditures of money or items of any value may change hands.
  • Pass a Constitutional Amendment barring the furlough of state employees when budgets have not been passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. Continue to pay state employees under their current contract. Stop all legislative pay and allowances from June 30 forward in any year in which the budget is not passed by midnight, June 30, until such time as the budget has been signed into law. Legislators, and the employees of the Governor's administration shall receive no pay for days without a budget, nor any expenses to be reimbursed during periods without a budget, nor will any compensation be paid to any member of the General Assembly, their staffs, and the Governor and the members of the Governors Administration for such period as the state is without a budget, at any time in the future. There shall be no recess from either chamber until the budget is passed. Action may be suspended for one hour each instance in order to allow members to eat breakfast, luch, dinner, and eight hours from midnight until 8AM the next morning for rest. There will be no excused absences except for severe illness, or death in the immediate family of the member. The Governor is required to remain in the Capital while no budget has been passed. [Days and partial days, which count as full days, measured from midnight to midnight, without a budget are days without pay for the Genral Assembly and the Governor and administration members. It is reprehensible that the Governor or the General Assembly would threaten furlough of state employees when they are not to blame for budgetary crises!].
These are common sense reform measures designed to return control of Pennsylvania State government back to the citizens of the Commonwealth, where it belongs.

Contact your legislator and demand action on these points.

Feel free to forward this post to your legislator using the envelope at the bottom of the entry. Send it to your friends and family, too. Links to legislative email addresses for the General Assembly are found here:
Unless and until you get directly involved and start to take action, the General Assembly will continue to ignore you while they strip you of your rights, your money, and your honor.

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