SB 166: Restoring Integrity to PA Government

Pennsylvania has a golden opportunity to enact good government reform, so it’s worth reiterating why SB 166, which House lawmakers continue to debate, deserves legislative approval and the governor’s signature.

This version of paycheck protection prohibits government from collecting and distributing campaign contributions from any entity, period. Whatever the organization’s political affiliation or purpose, no Pennsylvanian should be forced to pay for its politics.

Currently, government unions have the unique privilege of using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to deduct their campaign contributions. Passage of SB 166 would end this unfair arrangement, yet leave intact unions’ ability to collectively bargain and engage in politics.

This reform is consistent with our ethics laws. For instance, public officials are banned from – and jailed for – mixing public resources with politics. One example is former House Speaker and Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, who served 22.5 months in prison for using legislative staff and state resources for his campaign. The heart of these laws is not about the financial cost to taxpayers, but the integrity of government and efforts to weed out corruption.

No organization now or in the future should be exempt from the ethical prohibition of using taxpayer money for personal political gain.

Further, there is no doubt that state and local government is deducting contributions that aid in highly partisan government union spending. Unlike other deductions such as those for taxes, healthcare, pensions, or charities, this money is explicitly intended to influence elections.

Check out this chart for a list of elected officials receiving the most money from government union PACs.

Not only does SB 166 restore integrity to state government, it provides greater accountability to union members. When union leaders must directly solicit campaign contributions from their members, those members will gain a stronger voice in whether they want to fund the union leaders’ political agenda.

For these and many other reasons, urge your lawmaker to support this good government reform.