Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

“Slow, corrupt and expensive is no way to run a state government.” That’s what Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Brian O’Neill wrote recently about the Pennsylvania Legislature.

The state budget remains unset three months past deadline. O’Neill bemoaned that for the seventh consecutive year “America’s Largest Full-Time State Legislature has been unable to perform its principal task on time.”

What a mess! What to do?

O’Neill suggests cutting the 253-member legislature down to 201. He points out that this 20 percent cut would translate to savings of $60 million dollars or more a year.

Sounds good: Fewer politicians, less cost. But reducing the number of legislators won’t solve the problem. It may make it worse.

A Pennsylvania senator represents 250,000 citizens, a representative only 61,000. Compare that to California, where a state senator represents more than 900,000 people and a representative 460,000. And California’s budget is a bigger mess.

The math is simple: A single citizen’s voice is more pronounced to a Pennsylvania state legislator. The cost to challenge an incumbent is far less, there, as well.

So don’t cut the size of the legislature. But by all means cut the cost.

The problem Pennsylvanians have in reforming their state is that — shockingly — self-interested politicians are resistant to reform, and the voters lack an initiative process to do the job themselves.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. […] Jacob’s latest “Common Sense” deals with the size of the Pennsylvania Legislature.  Jacob […]

  2. David Denholm says:

    Cutting the size of the legislature? NOT! If you want a good example of state government, look to New Hampshire. They have a lower house with 400 members. They also have some of the lowest taxes in the nation and you don’t hear about a lot of corruption in New Hampshire. I think the key to it is that the people can actually know their representatives. Each member of the lower house represents about 2,400 registered voters. Here’s an idea for real government reform. Our foundiing fathers had it in mind that there would be one representative in Congress for every 30,000 people. That would give us a House of Representatives of about 10,000 members. I think we’d be better off with that than with 435 that think of themselves as aristocracy because they have so many constitutents it is almost impossible to get rid of them. The cost of paying a huge legislature is nothing compared to the cost of what damage they can do when they are out of control.

  3. D. Melton says:

    Apparently there isn’t enough enlightened self-interest in Pennsylvania’s legislature. Perhaps an open season on lawmakers would focus their attention on doing the job they’re being elected and paid to perform. At least such a thinning of the herd would allow for replacements who are not beholden to the power structure.

  4. […] across the country there has been a push to reduce the size of legislatures, rather than increase them. The idea is that fewer legislators […]

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