Pa. House puts brakes on lawmakers’ leasing cars

(Big Stock)

(Big Stock)

A plan to stop future state lawmakers from leasing taxpayer-funded vehicles has passed Pennsylvania’s House and is now moving on to the Senate.

The Republican-backed initiative is borne of concerns over costs stemming from car accidents and other repairs.

Forty-two legislators  now lease state vehicles — 27 in the House and 15 in the Senate.

In the House, all are Democrats. In the Senate, all but five are Democrats.

Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, has gotten in three accidents in state cars, racking up $30,000 in repair costs covered by state insurance.

Supporters of the bill have held her up as an example of why leases are too expensive.

Davidson, however, noted that if a lawmaker drives enough miles, a lease is actually more cost effective than the state’s 55 cent-per-mile reimbursement.

“This is nothing more than political theater, Mr. Speaker,” she said on the House floor. “It is not economic reality.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford, said that doesn’t assuage his concerns.

“If legislators are elected in the future that have bad driving records, and they have accidents, taxpayers are going to pay more money than if that wasn’t the situation,” he said.

The measure now goes to the Senate where, notably, the two top Republicans lease state cars.

A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati didn’t immediately comment, and Majority Leader Jake Corman didn’t have much to say.

“Until this very second, I didn’t even know about the bill, so we’ll see when it comes over,” he said.

The Senate has only a few voting days left before the legislative session ends.

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