HARRISBURG – After Pennsylvania state legislators earlier this month received an automatic 5.7% pay raise pushing a rank-and-file representative’s or senator’s pay above $95,000 per year, local state Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford/Erie) today in Harrisburg introduced legislation that would enable lawmakers to opt out of the yearly salary increase.
“Some people don’t realize the automatic pay raise is part of a state law enacted 25 years ago,” Roae said. “Legislators like me who don’t want the raise are obligated to accept it and then return it. My bill would allow us to opt out of receiving the yearly pay hike.”
The yearly pay increase – or “cost-of-living adjustment” – is part of a 1995 law enacted years before Roae entered the state Legislature. The law provides state legislators with an automatic pay hike based on the rate of inflation in Philadelphia, which is the most expensive area in the Commonwealth.
Legislators like Roae who don’t want the pay raise are forced by law to accept it. Roae returns his to the state, but he is still taxed on the additional income and receives an undesired increase in his state defined-contribution retirement plan, which is similar to a 401(k).
Roae recently sent his monthly allotment of undesired pay increase money to the state’s Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program. Every volunteer and career fire department and ambulance service in the state is eligible for a grant every year if they complete an application.
Roae voiced disgust with the entire automatic pay raise system and noted candidates for the Legislature often receive a pay increase before ever taking office. He pointed to the upcoming election cycle as an example.
Candidates who run for the state Legislature in November 2022 and win will begin collecting a paycheck in December 2022, one month prior to taking the oath of office and beginning their term of service in January 2023. The automatic pay hikes are given each December, so a candidate who is elected in November 2022 will receive an automatic pay increase before ever taking office in January 2023.
In non-election years, like the current one, legislators receive the automatic pay increase in the middle of their term.
“I believe legislators and voters should know on election day what the state legislator will be paid and the salary should remain the same for that term of service,” Roae said. “My bill at least would give those of us who disagree with the system a way to avoid participating in it.”
Roae’s legislation was introduced as House Bill 2172
and has been referred to the House State Government Committee.
More information about Roae is available by visiting his website at RepRoae.com
and following him on Facebook at Facebook.com/RepRoae
Representative Brad Roae
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing