State Lawmakers Quietly Get Pay Hike

By Jon Delano, KDKA Political Editor

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The average Pennsylvanian makes about $44,000.

The average state legislator in Harrisburg makes about $78,000 until last week when an automatic cost of living hike gave them each a $1,300 raise.

They got the raise without voting on it because after the pay raise debacle of 2005, lawmakers found a new way to hike their pay without anyone’s fingers on it.

While senior citizens have their Social Security cost of living increases frozen for two years in a row and tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians cannot find work, one group paid by taxpayers quietly got a pay raise on Dec. 1.

Pennsylvania lawmakers, top state officials and judges got a 1.7 percent pay hike, boosting legislative pay to $79,616, not counting per diems and all the other perks.

“I just think it’s unconscionable for anybody, especially in public service,” says PA Rep. Randy Vulakovich of Shaler.

Vulakovich is one of the area legislators not taking the increase. In fact, the former police officer has never taken a pay raise since first taking office four years ago.

“Whatever my starting salary would be whenever it would start that would be my salary when I leave or retire at some day, and I just keep that promise,” he says.

This most recent raise was automatic – without a legislative vote – and Vulakovich, a Republican, says Republican leaders – now that they control the legislature – need to schedule a vote to repeal this hike in January.

“The overall best way to do it is just repeal it. If you want a raise, then vote on it. Put your name on record,” says Vulakovich.

Some legislators are not taking the increase. Others are giving it to charity, although critics say it’s not their money to give away.

Vulakovich says with people hurting and significant budget cuts coming in 2011, “certainly right now everybody should agree that they should not take this COLA. We have to set an example.”

Now some lawmakers are doing what Vulakovich has done — return the entire pay raise to the state treasury.

But it’s not yet clear how many are following this example.

If you find out what your state rep or senator is doing, you may share that information by email at

  • Audrey E. Faessel

    I sent an email to Sen. John Pippy as well as Rep. Maher. They both represent me in Harrisburg.
    Sen. Pippy emailed back saying he will return his raise to the state treasury. I didn’t hear from Mr. Maher. That doesn’t surprise me though, he doesn’t answer his mail.
    The ones that are giving their raise to charity is also a cause for concern. They show it on their income tax as a donation to charity. That to me is just like taking the raise.

  • Kathleen

    Third largest state legislature in the U.S., one of the highest paid. Wake-Up Pa. residents and DEMAND they reduce the size of this useless body of self-serving representatives.

  • ed

    A totally disgusting act of greed;the COUNTRY CLUB MEMBERS do it again!;where is justice to our fellow man?People losing homes,family,lives while the COUNTRY CLUB MEMBERS fatten their wallets.

  • marie

    Yes they get a raise and Senior Citizens don’t. Does not make sense to me. I called my legislature and he said the area organization is getting a donation. That was not a good answer to me. Yes they may need it, but Seniors need it more. We don’t get increases but they keep raising medical insurance etc.

  • Thomas R. Skidmore

    Don’t these moronic “politicians” know abut our troubled economy?! This, then, is no wonder that many people, myself included, feel that govenment has no relation to true freedom what-so-ever. All I can say to these alleged “leaders” is this: Remember, remember the Fifth of November…
    “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”
    —-Robert E. Howard, “The Tower of the Elephant”, Weird Tales, March 1933

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