A group of Pa. lawmakers didn’t take pay during the budget impasse. A bill would force all to abstain

This story originally appeared on Spotlight PA.

Twelve state House lawmakers didn’t cash at least one of their paychecks during Pennsylvania’s six-month budget impasse last year, as the legislature struggled to agree on the last pieces of the state’s $45.4 billion spending plan.

The group represents a tiny fraction of the 253-member legislature. However, under a bill floated by one of the check-rejecters, all lawmakers as well as the governor and lieutenant governor would be forced to forgo their pay during future budget impasses.

Not taking pay, lawmakers told Spotlight PA, followed up on campaign promises or showed they understood the pain of groups, such as community colleges or libraries, that struggled to make ends meet amid the impasse.

State Rep. Jamie Flick (R., Lycoming), a first-term lawmaker and business owner, didn’t take a paycheck from July to December. He said that he campaigned for office on a promise to abstain from pay if there was no budget, and “had already promised my constituents I would have my check withheld until the budget, that being 100% of the budget, passed.”

But even among lawmakers who declined to take a check, there is disagreement on whether forgoing pay during an impasse should be an official policy or a personal choice.

“My inclination is financial pressure that may force a member to vote one way or another is probably not a good thing,” state Rep. Perry Warren (D., Bucks) told Spotlight PA.

State House lawmakers passed a spending plan a few days after the June 30 deadline, though it wasn’t signed until August. Additional budget-enabling bills to fund libraries, community colleges, and some nonprofits didn’t become law until December.

The number of checks lawmakers delayed cashing varied.

Six delayed only their July check, according to state treasury records acquired by Spotlight PA:

State Rep. Joe Hogan (R., Bucks)
State Rep. Tom Jones (R., Lancaster)
State Rep. Leslie Rossi (R., Westmoreland)
State Rep. Abigail Salisbury (D., Allegheny)
State Rep. Christina Sappey (D., Chester)
State Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D., Chester)

Three lawmakers — state Reps. Tim Brennan (D., Bucks), Frank Burns (D., Cambria), and Warren — accepted just one check from July to December.

State Rep. Jill Cooper (R., Westmoreland) — who is the main sponsor of the “no budget, no pay” bill — waited until October to cash her paychecks, while state Rep. Brett Miller (R., Lancaster) waited until November.

  • January 9, 2024
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