In case anyone missed today's Inquirer, John Perzel was quoted as saying this:
Maybe Pennsylvania House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) just wasn't thinking or maybe he spoke too fast when he was interviewed at Harrisburg TV station WITF Thursday for the Smart Talk show.
Perzel defended last year's ill-fated pay-raise legislation, saying that some lawmakers have debt issues and noting that there's at least one Philadelphia tattoo artist who makes more than a state lawmaker's $72,187 salary.
"We have roughly 30-some members who can't apply for a credit card because their credit's so bad," Perzel said. "And I know a lot of people out there watching this show have the same exact problem."
He added: "When I see that a tattoo artist in the city of Philadelphia makes more than a legislator, I think there's a problem. I thought the members of the General Assembly were worth one-half of what a member of Congress makes."
However, a spokesman said, Perzel added: "No one need be concerned about a future pay raise, because there won't be a pay raise introduced in Harrisburg in our lifetime."
Perzel spokeswoman Beth Williams yesterday told the Associated Press that Perzel was repeating "anecdotal information" given to him by a senior House official. She declined to identify the official and said Perzel did not know the names of legislators with credit problems. ("Perzel says many colleagues are in a financial pickle" by Julie Shaw)
First, anyone can apply for a credit card. The application may not be granted but anyone can apply. Second, the state of a person's credit rating has nothing to do with how much they make. There are people who earn a lot of money who have bad credit. Whether or not you can get a credit card has more to do with whether or not you pay your bills. And if someone can't manage their own money on $72,187 a year with generous benefits, car allowance and a per diem, I don't think I want them managing the state's money. As to the relative salaries of tattoo artists, well, most professional athletes in the city earn more than the average state legislator and I don't see him complaining about that. So do most national news anchors. I don't necessarily think those jobs are any more challenging than being a state legislator. However, I'd like to see Perzel spend a day milking cows, being an ER nurse, a middle school teacher, working construction, and any number of other occupations that, on average, earn less than he does. Let him stock shelves at Wal-Mart for a day or so with no health insurance. He might decide he doesn't have it quite so bad after all.