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PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Pennsylvania’s governor wants to ban gifts to all elected state officials and to suspend pay for himself, lawmakers and their top aides when they haven’t fully enacted a budget by the annual deadline.
At a joint press conference with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his plan for governmental ethics reform on Monday.
Three years ago, the Center for Public Integrity gave Pennsylvania an F rating, and ranked The Commonwealth 45th out of all the states in terms of governmental integrity. Gov. Wolf says his new plan should help to change that.
“The truth is, our citizens don’t trust their government,” says Wolf. “They don’t think that our government has their best interests at heart, and that it’s not working on their behalf.”
Gov. Wolf says he wants to end needless spending, and increase transparency when it comes to tracking where taxpayer money goes.
“This proposal will hold all public officials accountable to their constituents, and make sure that our citizens know exactly who’s in charge in Harrisburg,” says Wolf.
The governor’s new plan has six parts, including:
- A ban on gifts for public officials
- A “No Budget, No Pay” rule
- An effort to curb special interest influence
- A requirement that officials submit receipts for expenses for which they are reimbursed
“The proposal will enforce the strict standards on how Harrisburg really should operate,” says Wolf. “I think [it will] do a lot to rebuild trust in the government.
The governor especially emphasized the proposed “No Budget, No Pay” rule during Monday’s announcement.
“It would stop pay on June 30, in the event of a budget impasse for the governor, legislatures and their top staff, while ensuring all those responsible for passing a balanced budget are in the capitol on business days until one is passed.”
Gov. Wolf added, “It’s long past time that we change how Harrisburg operates, and it’s a long time past that our constituents once again take precedence over the special interests.”
Wolf banned gifts from people under his authority since taking office three years ago. But that doesn’t apply to state legislators and other elected state officials.
The governor also wants limits on political campaign contributions and disclosure of donations made by people seeking government contracts.
He says public officials should make public the source and amount of any outside income.
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