As a private business owner, Jamie Flick said he was forced to make difficult decisions 10 years ago when the state budget was not completed for nine months after the fiscal year began.
Because his company works primarily with county governments and agencies, Flick could not take a paycheck from his own company and had to consider cutting hours for other employees.
“This is not how our state should operate,” said Flick, who as a current member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, is one of 12 state representatives who have asked that their pay be withheld for the month of July as the state budget impasse continues. There are 203 members of the state House.
Negotiations on a budget plan fell through between majority parties in the House and Senate, as well as Gov. Josh Shapiro, and neither chamber is scheduled to return to Harrisburg until September. Leaders can call members back early if a plan is negotiated.
Reps. Flick (R-Lycoming/Union) and Jill Cooper (R-Westmoreland) have committed to having their pay withheld for August as well should the budget impasse continue. Flick said he is withholding his pay for July, August, and beyond if necessary as he believes one of the most important jobs of the General Assembly is adopting the annual state budget.
“In recent years there have been numerous occurrences of the annual budget not being adopted before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1 as required by law,” Flick said in a statement. “When the budget is not enacted in a timely manner, many payments to counties, school districts, service providers and nonprofits, to name a few, are not timely made and many important programs may be interrupted, and/or positions may be cut, forcing people to lose their jobs.”
Flick said in addition to withholding his pay, he is co-sponsoring legislation that will require the compensation of the governor, lieutenant governor, and members of the General Assembly to be suspended during a budget impasse.
“This will put legislators on similar footing with others who depend upon the annual appropriation process,” said Flick.
Cooper is preparing to introduce legislation that would result in suspended pay for legislators and the governor until the budget is passed.
“Responsible budgeting is Government 101,” Cooper said. “Harrisburg has its core services and functions and when we don’t have a budget in place to begin a fiscal year, those services, such as programs for special needs populations, education and food banks, are at risk of being disrupted.”
Cooper said Pennsylvanians deserve better than a process that hurts the state’s most vulnerable populations, while legislators continue to be fully compensated.
“My motivation is simple; right now, we have a missed deadline, and worse yet, there seems to be a lack of urgency to complete the job as soon as possible,” said Cooper. “Workers across the state, whose taxes actually pay our salaries, would have been fired for the same behaviors.”