The Ethics Reform Pa. Should Prioritize

Governor Wolf recently revealed more details of his “Citizens First” plan to reform campaign finance laws and gerrymandering practices. This follows the state Supreme Court’s controversial decision to redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional districts, a ruling prompting some House members to introduce legislation to impeach four justices for overstepping their judicial authority.  

These are all bold measures, and one ethics reform in particular is widely-supported and takes a meaningful step toward good government: paycheck protection.

This legislation evenly applies ethical political standards, prohibiting public resources from being used to collect political money. Currently, government unions alone enjoy the privilege of using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect their political action committee contributions and dues money.

This has far-reaching political implications.

For example, the 2015 state elections included an influx of government union political money—notably influencing high-profile judicial elections. As this graphic shows, government unions donated $500,000 to judicial candidates, and spent more than $2 million running ads attacking Republican Supreme Court candidates.

(PA Government Union 2015 Political Spending)

Taxpayers were forced to collect most of this political money.

Instead of perpetuating this ethics loophole while debating contentious reforms, policy-makers should first implement a commonsense and widely-supported ethics reform: paycheck protection.