Cost cutting should start with legislators

I completely understand that we, as a state and nation, have fallen on economic hard times.

My family has felt the hardships along with most families across the country. My husband has lost his job.

I have two adult children with college degrees who are struggling to find permanent employment in their chosen field. The economy has reached the point where major changes need to be made, but cutting educational funding is not the solution to this financial quandary.

Down through the annals of time, has there ever been an instance when less education was a beneficial thing? We have schools with astronomical budget deficits being forced to cut programs and personnel while the progressive expectation never dwindles. Raising taxes for those who are already plagued with immense financial tax load is not the answer.

Our legislators say schools need to “trim the fat.”

I think we have now cut to the bone and are still unable to meet the current financial burden we are facing.

I offer an alternative solution. A bit of spring housecleaning is in order at the state level. Perhaps we should start at the top. Gov. Tom Corbett, according to a California state survey, at a salary of $183,255, had the nation’s highest governor’s salary in 2012. Under PA law, the governor’s salary gets an increase every year that is tied to inflation.

As of 2005, PA legislature members received $78,314, ranked as the fourth highest legislative salary in the nation, making it the most costly state legislature per capita in the U.S.

Their salaries continue to rise and are currently $82,026 per year. The senators receive a $159 daily per diem, or actual expense reimbursement [whichever is higher], for lodging and meals in Harrisburg. Records show much more is spent on catered luncheons, etc.

Often senators have catered lunches for themselves and staff members on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday when the chamber is in session.

Taxpayers also fund lawmakers’ private dinners with constituents, staffers and executives seeking to bring business into Pennsylvania.

There are even more extravagant accounts of out of control spending such as flying by private plane to Washington at the taxpayer’s expense.

Unlike our elected officials, I work every day of the work week and all other days of the calendar year, except for holidays and earned vacation days.

I drive my own car to work. I provide my own gasoline and vehicle maintenance. I am not reimbursed for routine mileage, and I am responsible for the expenses I incur. I am a typical working Pennsylvania citizen who is doing my best to make it in this economy, and if, through the grace of God, I get a little ahead in the process, it is a gift.

I am also, like most typical working citizens, tired of padding the pockets of those who claim to be looking out for me and have my best interest in mind when making decisions.

I say we need to protect our children and their futures. Their futures are dependent upon the education they receive, and I feel we need to guard our learning institutions with the same tenacity as we guard our country.

Janet Lackey, Claysburg