It’s time for the Pennsylvania Legislature — as most businesses and organizations have done in the past five years — to trim the fat and reduce its workforce.
The state House Tuesday voted by a 2-1 margin to reduce the House membership from 203 to 153 and shrink the Senate from 50 to 38 seats. The bills now move to the Senate, which does not reconvene until 2014, and is the same place a similar bill died last year.
Now is the time to start the cutting process.
Supporters say reducing the legislature should provide a cleaner, quicker government process that allows more to be accomplished — too many cooks spoil the broth. That makes sense. It would also mean huge saving when you eliminate 62 seats which each garner $85,000-plus salaries. Cost savings for a state that can’t handle its budget right now makes sense.
One of the staunchest arguments against the cuts is the damage it could do to rural areas, whose constituents would lose representation and the ability for one-on-one contact with their representatives.
That argument doesn’t fly these days when websites and social media (not to mention phones) allow legislators and constituents alike the opportunity to connect every minute of the day. State Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-199, is shining example of how the digital age makes this give-and-take process work for both sides of the computer.
That communication process will only improve in the next 10 years, which is how long it could take to enact these cuts if passed.
Should the Senate approve these bills, they would need another round of legislative approval in the next two-year session, the governor’s approval, then voter approval in a referendum.
If successful, the reduction wouldn’t take place until after the redistricting to follow the 2020 census.
It’s time to start that process now. Our legislature struggles to accomplish even simple things, and as taxpayers we pay for these struggles year after year.
It’s time for a leaner, more efficient setup that saves money.