Thursday, April 19, 2007

On the right legislative track in PA

State Senate OK bills to cap judicial pay
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

State senators yesterday approved a bill to stop the salaries of Pennsylvania's 1,000 elected judges from automatically rising when federal judges receive raises -- a provision that is a remnant of the 2005 government pay raise law.

The bill, which passed 49-1, still requires approval from the House and Gov. Ed Rendell to become law.

Aides to Mr. Rendell and House Democratic leaders did not immediately say whether they support the bill. The House Republican leader, Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, said his caucus would take a serious look at the legislation.

"I think it would be an improvement over what the current law is," Mr. Smith said in an interview.

The pay-raise law was repealed in November 2005 -- four months after it was enacted -- after a public outcry. But the state Supreme Court reinstated the portion of the law that raised judicial salaries and tied their future raises to the salary structure of federal judges.

The court ruled in September that repealing the judges' pay raise was barred by a constitutional provision meant to prevent the Legislature or governor from punishing judges for unfavorable rulings by reducing their pay.

Current judicial salaries are $175,236 for justices of the state Supreme Court; $165,342 for judges of the Superior and Commonwealth courts; and at least $152,115 for county judges...

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