HARRISBURG – State lawmakers and other government officials won’t get their automatic pay raises this year due to a one-year pay-freeze authorized by a state law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday.
Wolf signed the pay-freeze bill without offering comment, while also announcing that he’d vetoed a bill that would have relaxed restrictions on operations in restaurants.
As House Bill 2513 began moving in the Legislature in early September, Wolf took his own action to relax restrictions on restaurants, which had been limited to serving at 25% occupancy since the middle of July. Under the state’s updated guidelines, restaurants have been allowed to serve at up to 50% occupancy as long as the business self-certifies that its staff is following safety guidelines.
“The bill jeopardizes public health,” Wolf said in his veto message, adding that the legislation also contained “constitutional infirmities” in that it was seeking to limit his authority.
House Bill 2487 – which passed both chambers unanimously – freezes pay for lawmakers, the governor, the lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor general department heads, commission and board members and judges.
Last year, state officials eligible for the automatic pay increase received a cost-of-living raise of 1.9%, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill. Based on that, the bill was estimated to save taxpayers almost $3.2 million, as the state struggles to balance its balance devastated by revenue loss from the pandemic business closings.
“A pay freeze for government officials is absolutely appropriate right now with so many families and businesses struggling in this pandemic just to make ends meet,” said state Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, who authored the pay-freeze bill.