Cut Legislature First

The Philadelphia Inquirer editorializes that the first item to be cut from the budget should be the legislature’s budget, noting this is the source of funding for bonuses, no-work jobs for mistresses, and Fumo’s posse (not to mention the legal fees tied to Bonusgate and legislators’ promotional calendars).

For the past two months, the public has been treated to daily allegations in federal court of how State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.) spent “other people’s money” – including taxpayer dollars – on himself. Prosecutors say he misused more than $2 million in Senate funds.

Attorney General Tom Corbett is prosecuting a dozen current and former House Democratic staffers and officials in a scheme that allegedly paid aides $1.3 million of taxpayers’ money for campaign work. One aide, the former chief of staff to House Majority Whip Bill DeWeese (D., Greene), earned $42,000 in bonuses over three years while allegedly hiring a beauty queen with taxpayer money so she could become his paramour.

Republicans also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from state coffers on staff bonuses, although apparently not for campaign work. Either way, the habit was an extravagant use of tax money. And a grand jury is examining whether the House GOP improperly used a $9 million taxpayer-funded database for political purposes.

The Inky could have added that the legislative leadership accounts currently have an estimated $250 million in reserve that they are sitting on, and that Sen. Fumo and Rep. Mike Veon have also, allegedly, been illegally using the several hundred million in legislative-controlled WAMs.