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COLAs: What’s Good for the Goose Sure As Heck Should be Good for the Gander

Written by Roberta Biros

On the issue of Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for PA State Legislators, the Governor, and Judges, my opinion has been clear (and I’ve shared those opinions with you all repeatedly). I appreciate all State Legislators who have vowed to “give back” their 2.8% pay raise, but I think it is more important to REPEAL the ACT 51 Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) that generated the raise in the first place. Some of you agree, and some of you disagree.

I read an article from the Patriot-News this week [READ HERE] that states that Gov. Ed Rendell would like to take it a step further. According to the Patriot-News article:

The Rendell administration has told state workers’ unions it wants them to agree to cancel a 2.25 percent raise that went into their paychecks earlier this month and to forgo a 3 percent pay increase scheduled for July 1. It also wants to reduce the Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund’s reserve from $244 million to $50 million.

First, I support the idea of eliminating raises for all State Workers . . . whole heartedly, in fact. Do I feel their pain? Of course I do. I understand that it is painful when you don’t get a raise . . . as a small business owner, I haven’t gotten one for at least five years (although I admit that I lost count a long time ago). However, with the fiscal woes that are facing the State of Pennsylvania, there should be NO cost cutting measure that is NOT ON THE TABLE. It is clear that we are in drastic times which require drastic measures. I ask, however, would the Governor expect the State Workers to also send a check back to the State Treasury each month for their raise “give back” (as in the way that the State Legislators, Judges, and Governor have been asked to “give back” their raise)?

I would guess that the answer is a definitive “No”, and for good reason. Can you imagine asking the 78,000 state workers to be responsible for sending their pay raises back to the Treasury every month? Well, then, why the heck should we accept the idea of the State Legislators, Judges, and Governor doing it that way? After all, “what’s good for the goose should also be good for the gander” . . . right?

This goes back to the point of why I support a complete REPEAL of the ACT 51 COLAs which would eliminate the pay raises for State Legislators, the Governor, and Judges entirely. I support it as an important cost-saving measure, and I support it because it would eliminate the stupid babysitting that has started regarding keeping track of who did and who did not send their raise back yet. [ See my post titled PA Lawmakers Chime in on COLAS: It Seems That I Wasn’t So Far Off-Target After All for details]

Times are tough, and the State is going to have to make up for their $2 billion budget shortfall from last year’s budget somewhere [See my comments regarding the 2008-2009 Budget HERE]. If the Legislature would REPEAL their COLAs, they would be “Leading by Example” (a strange concept, I understand). By making that BOLD MOVE, perhaps it would also help the State Employee Union to understand the seriousness of the situation. Someone needs to take the first step towards officially cutting costs, and the Repeal of the COLAs by the Legislature would be both symbolic and stimulating. “Symbolic” in that the Legislators would be showing that they are serious about fixing our problems . . . “Stimulating” as it might encourage other State Workers (as well as the Taxpayers) to try to do their part. It would serve as proof that our elected officials are serious about putting Pennsylvania back on the right path of financial stability.

The economy has managed to tighten some of our belts without warning. I, for one, did not have the option to accept or reject my recent “pay cut”. Perhaps it is time for government employees (at all levels) to understand what that pinch feels like. What’s good for the goose . . .

As always, just my opinion.
~Roberta Biros, Mercer County Conservatives

January 31, 2009 at 4:29 pm
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