Burying Bill Adolph, Not Praising Him

Burying Bill Adolph, Not Praising Him

By Rocco Polidoro
The political career of retiring State Representative William F. Adolph,165th District is a clear case of why Pennsylvania needs a State Constitutional amendment to install term limits and to lower the number of legislators.

Burying Bill Adolph, Not Praising Him
Rep. Bill Adolph

The 165th state house district covers parts of Morton, Springfield, Marple and Radnor. I hear Bill Adolph is a good guy in Delaware County but many people don’t know about the Bill Adolph in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has 203 members and the PA Senate has 50 members. Government watchdog groups have labeled PA as the fifth most corrupt state in the Country.

House members start off making $85,339 a year with excellent benefits. When Adolph started in 1989, he was earning about $35,000. Employee benefit specialists estimate that a great benefit package, like what state legislators make, is equal to about an extra 35 percent of their salary. Bill Adolph ended his 28 years with a salary of $120,000.

Employee benefit specialist would also say that the schedule of a state legislator is considered part time. The average full time worker works about 250 days a year whereas state lawmakers work about 125 days a year. In addition many lawmakers have other jobs or businesses which confirms the fact that their state jobs are part time. Plus they get over $600 a month car allowance, $159 a day for expenses and a full medical package which includes Nursing Home protection. So when one adds up Bill Adolph’s salary, his benefits, car allowance, per diem expenses, office rent, staff salaries and their benefits, the State of Pennsylvania has spent over $4 million in the last 28 years.

And there is no way to add up all of the gifts, conference trips and sporting events that had come his way in those 28 years.

Now that Adolph retires in January, he will earn about $120,000 a year in a pension with full medical insurance. The complete retirement package alone can total another $3 million over the next 20 years. So the grand total for Bill Adolph could top around $7 million.

Why do we tax-payers allow all this for career politicians ? There wouldn’t be any pensions with full medical benefits if there were term limits in place. Wouldn’t a 10-year limit be enough?

Our Founding Fathers never planned for us to have public servants spend a life time as a legislator and pay them a pension and medical care for life.To make matters worse, there are 252 other state law-makers that have the potential to draw millions. Now what did we get for the $7 million that we will eventually spend for Bill Adolph?

If you were waiting for property tax relief, Adolph never brought that to PA. If you support public education, Adolph voted many times to cut funding to our public schools but did vote to give millions to Charter Schools. If you supported cutting waste in government, Adolph was a major distributor of WAM (Walking Around Money) money for years. WAM money was unappropriated and unaccounted state money for special projects in the districts of the powerful lawmakers.

Adolph has had a history of not being a good steward of our tax money. While he was on the Board of Directors and then the chairman of PHEAA, the State Auditor General did a report in 2007 which showed that PHEAA wasted $25 million over a 5 year period. PHEAA is the state agency that awards college grants and school loans to college students.

Another example of Adolph’s poor stewardship of our taxes was when he voted in 2001 to increase the pension formula of state lawmakers, judges and teachers by 50 percent. As a result the 501 school districts in PA owe over a billion dollars to the state pension system. And because of this pension-funding crisis, many school districts will be forced to eventually raise property taxes even more.

In 2005, Adolph voted to raise his salary by 34 percent on July 7th at 2 a.m. with no input from the press or the public. Adolph took the first month increase but when the word got out and the pressure mounted on all of the Legislators, Adolph returned the increase in the second month. To prevent another fiasco like the 2 a.m. vote, Adolph and the rest of his friends, voted to permanently build in a cost of living increase so their salaries can go up a little every year. This way most of the public won’t know of their annual increases.

Adolph’s salary has gone up from $35,000 to $120,000. Can you vote yourself a 350-percent increase in your pay over a 28 year period ? You see my friends, we don’t need to be spending hundreds of millions on these politicians. And that is why we need to get behind groups that want to create term limits and lower the number of law makers. I

n PA there are 50 state senate districts. We are paying salaries and benefits for those 50 senators and their staff. Then within each of those 50 senate districts, there are four state house members like Bill Adolph. Why do we need four State House members in an area where we already have a state senator? It’s excessive representation and we over-pay dearly for it. If you think Adolph’s $7 million package is mind-blowing, try to calculate what we are spending through out the State for the hundreds of retired and active law-makers and their staff.

We have to impose term limits and decrease the number of law makers. It’s no wonder our state is now $1.7 Billion in the red. If we don’t change the State Constitution, you won’t be able to afford living in PA. Bill Adolph may be a nice guy but no politician is worth $7 Million.The hard working people of Pennsylvania need to wake up.

Mr. Polidoro is an outspoken Democrat from Springfield and has been long represented by Rep. Adolph.

 

Burying Bill Adolph, Not Praising Him

Pennsylvania Legislature Size Not The Problem

By H. John StahlPennsylvania Legislature Size Not The Problem

As a former House member, it was the 1968 revisions to the PA Constitution that causes most of the problem. Governor Scranton forced the legislature to adopt a new constitution changing, among many things, the legislature from part time to full time with full time salaries. He said that they could get the best and brightest by offering full time work with full time executive pay.

That didn’t work out so well. The Late James Gallen, one of the longest serving members of the House, discussed this with me. He was there before the new Constitution took effect.

He and I, in the minority, agreed that the problem was three fold:

First, the legislators had to make it appear that they were busy simply to justify their salary.  The current job pays over $100,000 with the expenses along with a generous pension. (I do not collect one). So, they have to introduce legislation vote on legislation and do enormous amounts of constituent work to justify that much money. While most fail, the upshot was lousy legislation and shoddy work. Even in 1972, I ran thinking that I was going to do good things for my constituents. I soon found out that my real job was to stop other legislators from doing things TO their constituents!

Second, instead of attracting the best and brightest, because the job paid so well, it attracts those who want to better themselves financially. It also attracts lowlifes in some areas of the state. When the legislature was part time, it attracted  those who wanted to better themselves by “serving” their communities. Thus the term that is used today( without much meaning, I might add). (I served in the legislature from 1973 to 1976, two terms.) In other words, having done well in the private sector, they wanted to give back something to their communities by serving them. (This is Christ’s example: He that is last shall be first. And That Christian doctrinal belief is also missing from the public marketplace.)

At the turn of the 19th century, there were just as many legislators as today. But the population is double today that which it was in 1900. Thus the representation per person is 1/2 of what it was. Limiting the size of the legislature is the wrong solution to the wrong  problem.

The  third reason is MONEY. The amount of money spent on elections in Pennsylvania and the nation is obscene. It is estimated that nationwide in all state and national elections, 10 to 11 BILLION Dollars will be spent. Only special interests have that kind of cash. When I ran, while there were a few fat-cats that contributed to my campaign, most of the money I raised was from ordinary folks, friends and family. It takes at least $100,000 average per state house race.

FollowTheMoney.org says that the amount of money spent in Pa in 2014 alone was over $152 MILLION! Now when you understand that because of gerrymandering only a small percentage of House and Senate seats ever change hands (usually under 10%), you can see that someone is paying a huge chunk of cash for relatively small gain.

These guys don’t give money because they’re nice guys.

There is an additional problem: US

“The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can turn the worst laws to advantage.”  said Alexis De Tocqueville. He also remarked that people get the government they deserve. That is, unless the people take part in their government on a continuing basis, they will continue to get the kinds of results we get now. When, three or four generations ago, they stopped teaching real “Civics”, people began to lose their connection to their government.

When asked what kind of government do we have, Ben Franklin was said to have replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” The price of liberty being eternal vigilance,who can say that they actually keep a watchful eye on their various governments? Few. Very few,indeed.
When I was a legislator, for instance, if I received more than 8 personal letters on a subject, I was worried. Even 40 years ago people stopped participating in their government.

There are solutions.
It is easy to demonize the size of the legislature. But,hopefully, I have dissuaded you from that angle. What we should do is to return the legislature to part time status. By nature, it will become more conservative. Next, reduce the pay by three-quarters, eliminate pensions, perhaps discuss healthcare, eliminate bloated staffs, control the cost of elections by limiting to x dollars per person served, adjusted annually for inflation or deflation.
And then we must mandate the teaching of Civics to our students. And that teaching must include the notions expressed in our original founding documents: the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

H. John Stahl represented the 128th District in the Pennsylvania State House from 1973 to 1976.

Pennsylvania Legislature Size Not The Problem

Lawmakers Seek To Cut Representation

Lisa Esler has informed us that the Pennsylvania House has, this week, passed House Bill 153 that would reduce the size of the House from 203 to 151 and House Bill 384 would reduce the size of the Senate from 50 members to 37. Lawmakers Seek To Cut Representation

If you think easy access to your state legislator is a bad idea then obviously you should support these bills.

On the other hand, if you think easy access to your state legislature is a good idea you would support bills increasing the size of the legislature to 424 as it is in New Hampshire, a state with a population about a 12th of Pennsylvania’s and area of about a fourth.

The claim is to save money. Rather than cutting the size of the legislature by about a quarter, why not cut the salaries of the legislatures by that much? It’s not as though they can’t afford it.
Lawmakers Seek To Cut Representation

Bills Give Pa Less Representation

The Pennsylvania House, Dec. 17 passed bills calling for state constitutional amendments that would significantly cut the size of the state legislature, reports state Rep. Jim Cox (R-129) Bills Give Pa Less Representation

House Bill 1234 begins the process of cutting the House from 203 to 153 members and passed 148 to 50 with all but five of the nays being Democrats.

House Bill 1716 begins the process of cutting the size of the Senate from 50 to 38 members. The vote was 148 to 48. All but five of the nays were Democrats.

The only Delaware County rep that was a nay on both bills was Democrat Greg Vitali (R-166) albeit Democrat Thaddeus Kirkland of the 159th District was a nay on the bill to cut the size of the House.

Way to be a profile in courage Thaddeus.

The claim is that cutting the number of legislatures will save money. Of course, cutting their salaries, expensive accounts, pensions and health benefits would also save money and their doesn’t seem to be a push in that direction.

What the bills actually do is cut representation and make getting re-elected easier.

These proposed constitutional amendments now go to the state senate.

Article XI, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states such amendments must pass two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly, and then be placed on the ballot as referendum questions to be approved or disapproved by the voters. If the amendments are approved in total, they would take effect with the first session of the General Assembly that begins after the 2020 census and subsequent reapportionment.

Bills Give Pa Less Representation

Cut Pennsylvania Legislature Size?

It seems a crusade is trying to be started to cut the size of the Pennsylvania state legislature to make it more like California, a significantly larger state in terms of geography and population which has 120 legislators compared to Pennsylvania’s 253 and which spends less on legislative salaries than Pa. Cut Pennsylvania Legislature Size?

Of course, as poorly as Pennsylvania is run I’m not so sure we would want to trade places with the not-so-anymore Golden State.

And why would we want to give up representation? It sounds more like a ploy to increase the influence of city machines, such as that of Philadelphia, than to save money.

So why not a crusade to go the other direction — increase the size of the legislature yet cut the salaries and benefits. For instance, New Hampshire, a significantly smaller state than Pa in terms of geography and population has 424 legislators but pays them just $200 for a two year term.

Of course, we don’t have to go that far. We can keep the size of the legislature as is and simply cut salaries.

The base pay for legislators is about $78,000. This doesn’t includes bennies, of course, and committee chairmen and party leaders and such get more.

So how about this:  Change the pay scale to $1,000 per day for the month of February. There would be no benefits, of course, but $28,000 — or $29,000 I don’t oppose the extra grand for leap years — is  still pretty sweet, and ending bennies would have the educational effect of making our servants understand what we must go through when funding retirements and buying health insurance.

The would be no per diem to cover expense, but a hotel near the Capitol would be rented at taxpayer expense to provide free rooms — two per room with the roommates being of opposing parties where possible. Breakfast and dinner buffets akin to those available to dormers at our state colleges would also be provided at taxpayer expense.

Missing votes will result in a loss of the day’s pay.

If the legislative business should be required to go beyond February, our servants will still get the free room and board but the pay scale would drop to $50 per day.

An interesting experiment might be mandating the rooming at the hotel while encouraging the legislators to exercise their Second Amendment rights to personal protection.

Regardless, in no way do we want to be like California.

 Cut Pennsylvania Legislature Size?