Pennsylvania Legislature’s growing girth

Robert Swift has a good article on the “professionalization” of the Pennsylvania legislature, including  breaking down the cost of a legislator:


At $78,314, the annual salary for rank-and-file Pennsylvania lawmakers is the fourth-highest in the nation. The total cost for taxpayers to support each lawmaker runs higher — from $125,000 to $150,000 annually depending on lawmakers’ expenses. …

In addition to salary, House lawmakers receive an average $11,349 toward health insurance, an average $5,351 for prescription drugs with a co-pay, dental and vision benefits and a number of per-diem payments. Pensions and life and disability insurance benefits also count as individual benefits.

Support costs for House lawmakers include a $20,000 office expense account, a $7,800 vehicle expense reimbursement and $4,000 postage account. House lawmakers can use a car from the state government’s fleet of more than 16,000 or be reimbursed for driving their own cars.

Senators receive an average $13,791 toward health insurance and dental and vision benefits. Since 2007, senators pay 1 percent of their salary to participate in the health care plan. They receive per diems, pensions and life and long-term care insurance as well.

Support costs for senators, who have larger constituencies, include a $25,000 expense account and $26,500 postage account. They can use a state car or claim mileage, currently at 55 cents a mile.

House and Senate lawmakers can claim a $143 per diem to cover costs of lodging and meals. The per diem amount fluctuates annually based on federal guidelines. Estimates of total annual per-diem costs are in the $2 million range. House members can claim per diems for voting and nonvoting session days, attending committee meetings, the day after the last weekday of a session and for overnight stays. …


Lawmakers are assisted by nearly 3,000 staffers. Pennsylvania ranks behind only New York in size of the legislative staff, according to a 2003 NCSL study, the most recent available.

Thirty-nine House employees were paid more than $100,000 last year, according to records. Thirty Senate employees were listed with salaries more than $100,000 as of Dec. 31.