It's Your Money
Transparency in state spending is crucial to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent as wisely and efficiently as possible. This page is designed to offer information regarding state spending, as well as steps I have taken to improve transparency in government and reduce costs to taxpayers.
As of January 6, 2009, the day I took office, the salary for a rank and file State Senator was $78,324. Since then, two cost-of-living adjustments have been provided - 1.67% in December 2010 and 3.02% in December 2011. I have chosen to return each increase in pay to the state treasury, so that my current net salary equals that in place when I took office.
Mileage and Expense Reimbursement
I have never used a state-owned or state-leased vehicle, and I do not accept a per diem while I am in Harrisburg for Senate session. Each month, I request reimbursement for actual miles traveled on Senate business.
District Offices and Personnel
I have two district offices: one in Lancaster, and one in Craley. The monthly rent for the Lancaster Office is $1,519.45 plus utilities. The monthly rent for the Craley Office is $430 which includes utilities. There are seven people on my staff, which is the fewest in the Senate.
Reducing Government Costs
As Chairman of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, I have held several hearings on measures to reduce costs to taxpayers. One result of these hearings was the passage out of committee of Senate Bill 1080, the Government Support Agency Law, to consolidate legislative service agencies for greater efficiency and better use of taxpayer dollars.
I have supported reductions in the operational costs of the General Assembly. Since 2008-2009, the fiscal year in which I took office, Senate operational costs have been trimmed by more than $8 million.
IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Since taking office in 2009, one of my primary goals has been to make information about state government -- particularly government spending -- more easily accessible. In 2011, legislation I introduced was signed into law as Act 56 of 2011 to strengthen penalties for violating Pennsylvania's Sunshine Law, which requires public access to open meetings and the opportunity for public comment.
Other measures I have supported in recent years to improve state government transparency and accountability include:
Independent Fiscal Office (2010)
Pennsylvania's new Independent Fiscal Office, created by Act 120 of 2010, will improve the state budget process. The office's responsibilities include preparing annual revenue estimates, providing an annual assessment of the state's fiscal condition, developing performance measures for state programs, and analyzing tax and revenue proposals made by the Governor or the Office of the Budget. The IFO's website is expected to be available soon.
Rules of Ethical Conduct (2010)
On June 15, 2010, the Senate adopted a set of Rules of Ethical Conduct to make the division between legislative and campaign work clear, to provide annual ethics training, and to establish strong penalties for violations. I was the cosponsor of these new rules, and held a public hearing in February 2010 to help make the rules as effective as possible.
Website for Mobile Devices (2010)
The General Assembly has a website for mobile devices designed specifically for users of the iPhone, iPad, Android-based devices, and the BlackBerry. Visitors can use the site to search for bills by number or keyword, to read bill text, to access information about legislative committees, to watch or listen to Senate and House sessions, and to contact members of the General Assembly.
Online Budget Database (2011)
Act 18 of 2011, requires the creation of a complete online budget database. This database, designed to make details of state spending easily and freely accessible, is scheduled to be available by the end of 2012.
OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION
In addition to those listed above, the following resources provide additional information designed to make the operation of state government more transparent and accountable.
Lobbyist Disclosure Reports (2006)
Pennsylvania's Lobbying Disclosure Law, Act 134 of 2006, requires lobbyists and principals (the companies and individuals who hire lobbyists) to file quarterly reports. The Department of State maintains an online database of lobbyists, principals and the required reports.
Statements of Financial Interest
The Governor, members of the General Assembly, and other public officials are required to file Statements of Financial Interest with the State Ethics Commission. The Statements of Financial Interest are all available on the Commission's website.
Live Senate Video Feeds (2007)
Open Records Law (2008)
Pennsylvania's new Open Records Law (Act 3 of 2008), makes many government records easily available to interested residents. Information about how to request records from any state executive branch office or local government office is available from the Office of Open Records. Information about requesting records from the Senate, the House, and the state Judiciary is also available.
Online Contract Database (2008)
Pennsylvania's new Open Records Law also created an online contract database. State contracts valued at $5,000 or more are included in this database, which can be searched by agency, contracting party, contract amount, date, and subject matter.
Online Bill Room: Fiscal Notes (2009) and Roll Call Votes (2007)
Assembly's website now includes links to fiscal notes for those bills that
have been considered by the Senate or House Appropriations Committee. You can
also access the roll call votes for every bill considered in a Senate
committee, in a House
committee, on the Senate
floor, or the House