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Politics & Government

State Rep. Looks to Limit Outside Income for Lawmakers

Kumar Appaiah

For the third time in as many sessions, State Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) will introduce legislation putting a limit on outside income for legislators.

House Bill 566 would cap outside earned income for representatives and senators at 35 percent of their base salary as a member of the general assembly. In other words, a legislator with a salary of about $84,000 will be able to bring in as much as $29,400 in outside income.

“When members are not working in Harrisburg or voting in session, we are supposed to be back in our districts working for our constituents,” DeLuca said. “So, I have to ask: Who has time for another full-time job?”

And the answer is: a lot of legislators. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, nearly 40 of Pennsylvania’s 50 senators and more than half of the 203 state representatives have second jobs or outside sources of income, which begs another question: Is there a conflict of interest?

According to Rep. Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny), there is.

“What are you doing for that other 35 percent or above that 35 percent that may have an impact or influence on what we do right here?” he said. “We have to make sure that we keep government pure.”

DeLuca is also rolling out a bill that would update the state’s annual Statement of Financial Interest, where lawmakers are required to list each source of outside income totaling more than $1,300. The legislation would require senators and representatives to also list the amount they receive from each source.

“If a member is earning more than $1,000 in outside income, it is certainly in the public’s interest to know much more and where that money comes from,” DeLuca said.

Rep. Gainey backs both bills, and said they are a step toward better government integrity.

“The way to do that is to make sure, as a full-time body, that we do full-time work and this is the only position that we take in order to make sure we’re serving our constituents and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Gainey said.

But others disagree. DeLuca’s previous proposals didn’t gain much ground, with lawmakers saying qualified people won’t run for office without outside income.

“I think they are so far out of touch,” DeLuca said. “You don’t have to make $200,000 to be qualified. We got people who could make $50,000 and be just as qualified as anyone here.”