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Government reform: Time to put Pa. Legislature in order

Published April 28. 2012 09:01AM

While all of Pennsylvania continues to rebound from tough economic times, my colleagues and I have been faced with hard decisions geared toward reaching one goal: Practicing fiscal responsibility with our taxpayers' dollars to lower the state's debt. As a legislative body, we often ask state-funded agencies and school districts to do more work with less money and staff as we attempt to determine the best use of taxpayer dollars. In an effort to "practice what we preach," my House colleagues and I recently voted in favor of legislation which would reduce the size of Pennsylvania's General Assembly. This legislation, which awaits consideration in the Senate, would cut the number of House districts from 203 to 153, and the number of Senate districts from 50 to 38. Now is the time to rightsize our state government operations and to rethink how we deliver these services in a more cost-saving manner. The Pennsylvania House is currently the second largest in the country, which is why we first need to take a look at our Legislature and put our own house in order. I supported this legislation because it mirrors the same things which we ask those whom we represent to do. I believe this legislation demonstrates our Legislature's commitment to downsizing government and would save Pennsylvania millions of dollars each year in lawmakers' pay and other costs of operating the Legislature. As school districts and a variety of human services agencies in my district, as well as across the entire state, have been faced with funding cuts over recent budget years, now is the time to make reductions in our own chamber to ease the burden of funding cuts to other organizations in the Commonwealth. Passing this legislation though the House was only the first step in a lengthy process toward reducing the Legislature. Changing the size of the Legislature requires an amendment to the state Constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed in two consecutive sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania. If signed into law, this legislation would go into effect during the first session of the General Assembly that begins after the 2020 Census. As Carbon County's voice in Harrisburg, I'll continue to push for legislation which best serves the needs of my constituents. As this bill, and other legislative pieces, progress in upcoming months, I'll continue to keep my district informed.

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