Newly-elected state legislator Doyle Heffley has joined other area lawmakers in not accepting an annual cost-of-living pay raise. Heffley also announced he will refuse per diem payments, stipends for food and lodging, for session days in Harrisburg and use of a state fleet vehicle. Heffley said he plans to donate his raise to charity.

This week, state Senator David G. Argall, Congressman Tim Holden, state representatives Neal Goodman and Jerry Knowles and incoming representative Mike Tobash, citing the austere economy - the state faces a $4 billion shortfall - all announced they will turn back the 1.7 percent cost-of-living raise, which plumped lawmakers' paychecks as of Wednesday.

With the raise, salaries for rank-and-file legislators jumped from $78,315 to $79,623. The pay raises were mandated in 1995.

"Simply showing up for work should not merit an additional check. My friends and neighbors do not typically receive a company car to drive to and from work, nor are they given additional pay beyond their salary or wages," Heffley said.

"As an advocate for reforming the way Harrisburg does business, I am planning on leading by example by not taking these perks," he said. "It is a privilege to serve as a member of the House, but that does not mean that house members are a privileged class. We should receive compensation packages in line with the average Pennsylvanian, nothing more. Legislators should not be receiving pay increases when most of the people we represent are struggling from paycheck to paycheck and have not had a cost-of-living increase."

He said his 'taxpayer-oriented reform agenda is focused on job creation, bringing jobs to Pennsylvania and righting Pennsylvania's economic ship. Until our economy rebounds, I don't feel it right or proper to accept the COLA and will do my best to help out locally by contributing it to worthy causes in the 122nd District."