A recent editorial in the Times News ("Too short," 05/24/10) advocated reducing the size of the General Assembly, extending House terms from two years to four to allow more time for policy making and less time for political campaigning, and that this measure would help the state's fiscal crisis tremendously. I would like to echo the sentiments about the importance of exploring every avenue for savings to the taxpayer.
I have introduced legislation that would accomplish this goal by reducing the size of the General Assembly from 253 members to 198. I feel that this proposal is the most realistic plan for reducing the size of the General Assembly, but I am also willing to support other similar plans that will help reduce costs to taxpayers responsibly.
However, it is important to note that simply reducing the size of the Legislature will not solve the state's fiscal problems. The General Assembly's entire budget (salary, operations, etc.) makes up less than one percent of the state's overall spending. Even if we eliminated the House and Senate entirely and declared Ed Rendell the "King" of Pennsylvania, the savings would not come close to solving the state's fiscal woes. This doesn't mean that reducing the size of the Legislature isn't important, but we should also realize that this measure is not a "silver bullet" that will solve the problem entirely.
We need to continue to examine every possible avenue for savings and I will continue my work as Chairman of the Senate's bipartisan Government Management and Cost Study Commission to explore spending reductions in every branch of government. Suggestions from local people on reducing the cost of state government are always welcomed and appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Dave Argall (R-29)