Political Fairness Issue Goes Before Lawmakers

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Legal Loophole Exploits Taxpayers & Union Members for Politics

Paycheck Protection Promises to Restore Fairness & Accountability

June 5, 2014, Harrisburg, Pa—Today, the House State Government Committee will hear testimony on paycheck protection, which would close a loophole in state law that permits government unions to use taxpayer resources for politics. This comes on the heels of a rally, yesterday, where hundreds of concerned citizens voiced their support for fairness for taxpayers and empowerment for public sector union members. 

Commonwealth Foundation President Matthew J. Brouillette, a former history teacher, will join Keith Williams, an Adams County English teacher, before the committee to urge the passage of House Bill 1507.

Below are excerpts from their testimonies.

Brouillette emphasizes two primary reasons to end taxpayer-collection of union political money: fairness and accountability.

Paycheck Protection is about fairness.  Government should provide equal opportunity for all and favor for none.  Today, Pennsylvania gives favor to one.  Only the government unions enjoy the exclusive legal and financial privilege of having the taxpayers pay for the collection of union dues and campaign contributions. This is not fair.  And Paycheck Protection simply requires government unions to play by the same rules as everyone else and collect their own political money.  This is fair.

Paycheck Protection is also about accountability.  When unions have to collect their dues and campaign contributions directly from members, teachers and other public employees are empowered to hold their union leaders accountable for how they spend members’ money.  When unions are able to use government resources to automatically withhold dues and campaign contributions, union members are denied the ability to use their “power of the purse” to hold their union leaders accountable for how they spend that money.

Read Brouillette’s full testimony here.

Williams explains how paycheck protection would empower public school teachers with more control over how their money is spent on politics.

This legislation is important to all education employees and is necessary to protect union members and fee payers. HB 1507 promotes transparency and will ensure that teachers are not paying for political activity they do not support. While the PSEA claims to support my local interests, it also donates millions to political candidates and causes well beyond the borders of my district and county, and in many cases, outside the Commonwealth. As fee-payers and taxpayers, teachers have a right to know where and how their money is politically allocated.

Again, as both a taxpayer and teacher, I’m particularly concerned about this use of taxpayer resources serving as a collection tool for political purposes. HB 1507 removes the burden from the district for unfairly utilizing taxpayer-funded payroll services for the purposes of partisan political activity.

Read Williams’ full testimony here.

Government union leaders were invited to offer their perspective but refused to testify before the committee.

Click here for additional background on government union political spending using taxpayer-funded resources.

Matthew Brouillette and Keith Williams are available for comment on how paycheck protection would restore fairness and accountability to the political process.

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For more information, please contact our director of media relations for the Commonwealth Foundation at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].

The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.