Swearing in Day

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives during its swearing in day ceremony on Jan. 3, 2017.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are getting their annual pay raises this week — maintaining their place as the second-highest paid Legislature in the country.

The cost-of-living adjustment will boost most legislators’ base salary by about $700 from its current $86,479. Those with leadership roles will make approximately $99,400 to $136,000 with the increase of about 0.8 percent.

The raises are based on the Consumer Price Index in the Philadelphia region. Several members of Lancaster County’s delegation have typically given their pay raises away to charity.

“Seven hundred two dollars is a significant amount of money, and I think it's important to recognize where that money is going,” said Rep. Mark Gillen, a Berks County Republican who represents who represents Brecknock Township in northern Lancaster County.

Gillen was among the six out of 13 Lancaster-based legislators who responded to LNP’s requests for comment about this year’s raises.

Even if lawmakers choose not to take the raise, it still impacts their pensions upon retirement.

At its current and new levels, Pennsylvania’s starting legislative salary trails only California, which has a $104,118 salary, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Meanwhile, the median household income in Pennsylvania in 2016 was $56,907, according to the latest Census data.

Two members of Lancaster County’s delegation also make more as members of their party’s leadership.

Rep. Bryan Cutler, of Peach Bottom, is in his second term as House majority whip and made $115,938 in 2017.

Rep. Mike Sturla, of Lancaster city, is in his fifth term as House Democratic Policy Committee chairman and made $98,609 in the last year.

LNP reached out to all 13 lawmakers who represent parts of Lancaster County to see what they’re doing with their increase this year. Below are their responses.

Sen. Scott Martin, R-Martic Township: “At some point next year, once the money is received, my wife and I look forward to discussing and selecting the charity/charities we will donate to.”
Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Landisville: Did not respond; has given the raise to charity in the past.
Rep. Michael Sturla, D-Lancaster: “No plans.”
Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Peach Bottom: Did not respond; has given the raise to charity in the past.
Rep. Steven Mentzer, R-Lititz: “I usually give the entire increased amount to one charity. I do have one in mind for this year.”
Rep. Mindy Fee, R-Manheim: Did not respond; has given the raise to charity in the past.
Rep. Brett Miller, R-East Hempfield: “As I've done last year, I plan to give 100 percent of this money to local charities.”
Rep. Keith Greiner, R-Upper Leacock: Did not respond; has given the raise to charity in the past.
Rep. David Hickernell, R-West Donegal: Did not respond; has given the raise to charity in the past.
Rep. David Zimmerman, R-East Earl: “As we get closer to Christmas and into next year I will decide who gets increases and if I add new charities to my list. There are many needs and so many good programs.”
Rep. Mark Gillen, R-Robeson Township, Berks County: Donating all of the increase to Veterans Making a Difference in Reading and the Bowmansville Fire Company in Lancaster County.
Rep. Jim Cox, R-Spring Township, Berks County: Did not respond.
Rep. John Lawrence, R-West Grove, Chester County: Did not respond.