Will State Lawmakers Take a Pay Cut?

As many readers will be aware, Pennsylvania lawmakers, judges, and executive branch officials receive an automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), using the CPI for Philadelphia as the measure for inflation.

What is interesting is the CPI for the past year (Oct 2008 to Oct 2009) actually comes out to a negative number (-0.15% to be precise). This raises the question of whether lawmaker will take a pay cut this year.

The language of the COLA reads (emphasis added):

[salary] shall be increased by a cost-of-living factor which is determined by increasing the amount of the salary by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area

John Micek of the Morning Call has checked around, and both the House and Senate clerks believe this would result in flat (i.e. no change) in lawmakers pay, rather than a cut.

I am more of an expert in the field of mathematics than in law – but in math you can absolutely increase by a negative number.

For instance 7 + (-2) = 5. Just sayin’.