Pa. legislature audit of its own spending overdue

     (NewsWorks File Photo)

    (NewsWorks File Photo)

    An annual audit of the Pennsylvania Legislature’s expenses is overdue, prompting an activist to call out the late accounting. 

    Every year, a joint state House-Senate panel hires a private firm to check the accuracy of their expense records.

    Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House GOP, said the audit’s release has been delayed — by as much as five months — because of commission turnover.

    He said one chairman resigned, and it took several months to find a replacement.

    “It’s just not one of those plum positions that members are crying for,” he said.

    The audit reveals how much money the legislature is keeping in reserve, in case there’s a budget impasse and lawmakers need a way to keep paying expenses without depending on a state appropriation.

    Eric Epstein, an activist with Rock the Capital says the stash should be used to fill budget gaps.

    The surplus has hovered between $120 and $180 million in recent years.

    It’s estimated the Legislature spends about $30 million a month in personnel costs.

    Senator Rob Teplitz (D- Dauphin County) said the legislature’s expenses should be exammined by more than just an outside firm.  He said the office of Pennsylvania Auditor General, where Teplitz used to work, should get a look at the books.

    “The public deserves to have an independent entity evaluating whether or not an agency is spending its money appropriately,” he said. “All this is, is an outside auditing firm and looking at the financial statements of the Legislature and seeing if they’re accurate.”

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