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PA Legislature Paid $4.2-Million to 258 Aides in Buyouts



The Pennsylvania Legislature paid 258 of its employees more than $4.2-million to retire or quit in the past two years in buyouts that in many cases gave people with decades of service an extra incentive to leave and begin collecting substantial pensions.
 
The voluntary programs began in the Senate and were designed to cut personnel costs into the future. The average recipient collected more than $16,000, and nine people received $40,000 apiece. The Senate clerk's office said its total number of employees fell from 902 in November 2011, when buyouts were offered, to 819 as of August. That chamber's payroll shrank more than $4-million.
 
Issues of legislative compensation and payouts are a politically sensitive issue in Pennsylvania, where the legislative workforce is among the nation's largest. Lawmakers generated a strong backlash from the public for voting to raise their own pay in 2005, followed by the so-called Bonusgate scandal involving payments of state money to staffers who worked on campaigns.
 
The House permitted anyone with at least one year of service to participate, and 25 people with three years or less took the offer. The Senate limited participants to those who were at or near retirement age or pension eligibility, and 47 took advantage.


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