by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 6 March 2006) -- Pennsylvania Treasurer Robert Casey Junior is speaking out against the pay raise lawmakers approved for themselves last year – even though he himself is named in a pay raise lawsuit.
In July 2005, state legislators – in the middle of the night, without public debate – voted to raise their own pay, as well as the salaries of judges and executive branch officials. They reversed themselves four months later.
There’s a lingering lawsuit over “unvouchered expenses,” which enabled some lawmakers to collect extra money immediately. Some never paid it back.
Casey has filed a brief supporting Dauphin County activist Gene Stilp, the petitioner. He agrees with Stilp that the pay raise and the collection of unvouchered expenses were both unconstitutional.
"And at the same time, in a larger sense, even beyond the lawsuit, I think it’s an obligation of every public official to do everything you can to prevent the erosion of public confidence in government. And I think this action eroded confidence in government," Casey said.
The situation is complicated by Casey’s being a respondent in the case. That’s because his office, the treasurer’s office, cut all the checks.