Home News Times editorial: Bring down the House

Times editorial: Bring down the House

Don’t laugh, gentle voters, but here’s a simple question: Are you getting your money’s worth from your friendly neighborhood state legislator? If you’re like most folks, the answer’s probably a big, emphatic “NO!”

As summer winds down, the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Sam Smith, has introduced a bill aimed at reducing the size of the House by 25 percent — to 153 members from 203.

The measure makes abundant sense, but it faces major hurdles. Because it would require an amendment to the state Constitution, it would have to be passed by both the House and the Senate in two consecutive sessions and then approved by voters in a referendum. The second part is easy; the first part, not so much.

Don’t expect public “servants,” especially those entrenched ones who’ve been wholly supported by the taxpayers for decades, to jump on the downsize bandwagon. The oversized, overpaid, underworked and underutilized legislative body loves its status quo. House members are about as motivated to pass significant reform as Philadelphia City Council members are.

In the last century or so, the only time members of the Pennsylvania Legislature took swift action was in July 2005, when they gave themselves hefty (and illegal) pay raises in the middle of the night.

Full-time pay for part-time work should end, but that will only happen if you the people tell your elected officials to do it. Then — and here’s the crucial part of the equation — when they don’t do it, you kick their political butts out of office. ••

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