It is rare to find someone willing to end their own scheduled pay raises.
Yet that’s what Rep. Patty Kim of Dauphin County and Gerald Mullery of Luzerne County have proposed. The two Democrats ought to be applauded, and supported, for introducing legislation that would eliminate automatic cost-of-living adjustments, known as COLA, for elected state officials.
Their bill, House Bill 1035, would end annual salary increases for members of the legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, and those elected to state row offices, according to abc27 News.
Also eliminated would be COLAs for secretaries of state agencies and various judges. Kim said the money saved from mandatory, automatic raises could be “reallocated to help our state’s neediest residents.”
In this state, those neediest residents often are taxpayers who no longer can shoulder tax increases at the local and state level. Property tax increases have become almost as automatic as COLA increases, and while reallocating money to needy Pennsylvanians is an admirable goal, those who face increasingly higher taxes should benefit.
The lawmakers are battling a 1983 law that provides for the annual COLAs, abc27 reported. Up next, the bill will be reviewed by the House State Government Committee.
Let’s hope their bill makes it out of committee. This is the exact common-sense approach that this state (and its taxpayers) need. Kim and Mullery are courageous for introducing legislation that may prove unpopular among their ranks.
But it’s the right thing to do. Raises should be based on merit, not calendar years, and when finances allow.
The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.)