Government Reform Caucus: A Step in the Right Direction

A Republican State Representative and a Democratic State Senator have announced the creation of a new Government Reform Caucus in the General Assembly. The ideas they are advancing are state government reform ideas that the Susquehanna Valley Center have been advancing for over a decade.

In March State Senator Rob Teplitz and State Representative Bryan Cutler announced the creation of the bipartisan, bicameral Government Reform Caucus to develop and promote legislation to reform state government.

They said they believe that bringing fundamental reforms to state government is the only way to put the General Assembly in a position to truly address the Commonwealth’s major issues.

“Pennsylvania faces critical substantive challenges, including the need for great schools, good jobs, lower taxes and safe roads and bridges. The best way that we can address these issues is by first reforming the way this state government operates,” said Teplitz (D-Dauphin/York). “An open, transparent, and inclusive government will not only restore the public’s trust, but it will also allow elected officials to work together more efficiently and effectively in order to move Pennsylvania forward.”

Among the bills that Teplitz has authored would allow independent audits of the General Assembly and its accounts; eliminate the automatic annual mid-term cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for state legislators; suspend pay for both the governor and legislators if the state budget is not approved on time; prohibit lame-duck legislative sessions; and prohibit state agencies from hiring lobbyists to lobby other state agencies.

“Our representative democracy was made to put the citizens in control of their government,” said Cutler (R-Lancaster). “This push for good government is about ensuring lawmakers remain focused on serving the needs and the will of the people. Their priorities should always be considered first. There should be no room for corruption or abuse in our system. This Government Reform Caucus will act as a bipartisan sentinel to defend the interests of the citizens of our Commonwealth.”

Cutler has authored legislation that would restore the part-time Legislature to combat escalating costs and the excessively slow legislative process, restructure appointments by the governor to base them on merit rather than political favors, increasing penalties on lobbyists who fail to properly register, forfeit gains of lobbyists realized through illegal means, select judges based on merit to focus on qualifications and experience rather than fundraising and politics, reform the policy on reimbursement of legal fees for lawmakers and staff to comply with the Constitution of Pennsylvania, limit the base amount of annuities to prevent public retirees from earning more in retirement than they did while working for the government, ensure that there is a very clear line between governmental functions and political activity, and budget on a two-year cycle to save costs and budget more efficiently.

Teplitz and Cutler will co-chair their newly formed Government Reform Caucus. Other charter members of the caucus include Sens. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh/Monroe/Northampton), John Eichelberger (R-Bedford/Blair/Fulton/Huntingdon/Mifflin), Ted Erickson (R-Chester/Delaware), Scott Hutchinson (R-Butler/Clarion/Erie/Forest/Venango/Warren), John Rafferty (R-Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), and Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia).

Participants from the House include Reps. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-Northumberland/Snyder), Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), Pamela DeLissio (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland/Armstrong), Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), Mindy Fee (R-Lancaster), Jaret Gibbons (D-Lawrence/Beaver/Butler), Glen Grell (R-Cumberland), Rob Kauffman (R-Cumberland/Franklin), John Lawrence (R-Chester), Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks/Lehigh), Steven Mentzer (R-Lancaster), Rick Saccone (R-Washington/Allegheny), Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton), RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon) and Dan Truitt (R-Chester).

Nothing contained here should be considered as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation in the General Assembly.