Advocates renew calls for Pennsylvania reforms

    Legislature’s stealth pay raise vote five years ago still rankles

    It’s been five years since Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to increase their own pay in the middle of the night.

    Good government advocates say the legislature has only given lip service to reform since the notorious vote.

    The act was later repealed due to public outcry, but the salary hike cost many lawmakers their jobs during 2006 elections.

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    Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA says for the most part, the legislative culture hasn’t changed during the past five years.

    He said both chambers waived transparency rules last week to rush budget votes through on short notice.

    “Well, we’ve said all along that rules are the junk food of governance,” Potts said. “What we need are laws. And if they’re not willing to give us laws then we can have no faith that they’re willing to abide by their own rules.”

    Potts has been leading the charge for a constitutional convention to overhaul state government.

    Both major-party candidates for governor, Democrat Dan Onorato and Republican Tom Corbett, say they’d support a limited convention.

    Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican who represents parts of Chester and Delaware counties, recently came out in support of the idea.

    A spokesman for House Majority Leader Todd Eachus says the top Democrat, who represents Luzerne County, doesn’t have a stance on the matter.

    A convention can’t take place unless the General Assembly passes a bill calling for one, and the governor signs it into law.

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