from the inbox:
State Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, today announced that he will continue working to fulfill his promise of increased fiscal and personal responsibility for state House and Senate members by re-introducing a package of reform bills.
The first bill, reflecting the stance he took during the prolonged budget impasse of 2009, would have legislators forfeit compensation for a period after the annual end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, if a spending package has not yet been enacted.
The second bill would have legislators contribute 1 percent of their salary toward health benefits.
"This is a simple matter of fairness," Santarsiero said. "Employee contributions are certainly common among private business to assume a reasonable portion of the cost of health benefits, especially at a time when they continue to escalate."
Santarsiero refused to take his salary during the budget crisis in 2009 and has not taken other benefits that would increase his personal income by thousands of dollars, including refusal of the 2009 and 2010 Cost of Living Adjustment and the $163 per diem that is paid for each legislative session day or for any day a House member attends an official meeting or hearing.
The third bill would prohibit public officials and employees from using government resources for campaign activities, and would designate the action a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $5,000 or a prison term of up to five years. He said this legislation is needed following the "Bonusgate" scandal that has rocked the General Assembly in Pennsylvania during the past few years.
"Ongoing investigations and recent allegations of misuse of government resources for campaign purposes have brought to light the fact that there is no clear criminal penalty for this activity," Santarsiero said. "It's important for employees, elected officials and the public to have clear definitions of campaign activity and government resources."