The long-awaited grand jury report written in response to the Bonusgate trials has declared that the grossly inefficient Pennsylvania legislature needs an overhaul. The grand jury wrote, “The current hierarchy of the House is designed to bestow the vast majority of the power on a select few, to the detriment of the other members of the House, as well as the public.” Presiding Judge Feudale wrote of the citizen jury, “This grand jury will not be satisfied with non substantive window dressing and/or sound byte utterances; regarding the concerns set forth in their report.”
A Lancaster Online report summarizes some of the grand jury’s recommendations for legislative reform:
- Eliminating taxpayer-funded political caucuses.
- Conducting a routine full, independent audit of all legislative expenses and providing results to the public.
- Becoming a true part-time legislature, with commensurate reductions in legislative salaries, staff, and staff salaries.
- Prohibiting legislative staffers working on campaigns from receiving legislative money, including pay, benefits, or contribution to retirement plan.
- Creating a standardized, annually updated written ethics policy for the entire General Assembly.
- Making the budget planning process open and transparent.
- Returning all unused budget money to the state treasury.
The report mirrors many recommendation the Commonwealth Foundation has been championing for years – such as the merit of a part-time legislature, the necessity of state spending transparency, the elimination of incumbent protection plans, and a limited constitutional convention.