Monday, August 2, 2010

Tara Toohil Thinks State Government Is "Broken"

Standard Speaker veteran reporter Mia Light informs her readers about election issues Tarah Toohil feels are the important points of her campaign for State Representative in the 116th district.

"I think the government is broken. I think it has gone so far afield from the way that government was intended to be," Toohil said during a meeting with the Standard-Speaker editorial board recently.

"(The issue of) property taxes is huge."

"People are still so upset about the gambling money. People remember that last year's state budget hinged on that gambling money and senior citizens remember that they were supposed to get a tax break with that money."

She is in favor of term limits. And she believes fiscal responsibility begins with trimming a lot of the government's own fat.

"Government was supposed to have representatives that are just like everyone else in the community. They weren't supposed to be career politicians."

"The legislature we have now, they're always serving themselves with perks and per diems that are out of control to the point of becoming like an additional salary. That's the biggest problem with the legislature. Rather than being an honor and a privilege to serve their community, they feel we should pay them with excessive perks and pensions."

She believes elected officials should liken themselves to the British House of Commons. "The House of Representatives was supposed to be like in the British Parliamentary System, the House of Commons."

Most people aren't familiar with the British system but here are some highlights. Click on this link to see the expense reporting requirements for Members of Parliament(MPs).

Members of Parliament ARE REQUIRED to list ALL their expenses unlike PA legislators and they are published on a free website for public review. Travel costs, stationery and postage costs, details of catering functions and events hosted by Members, repayments made against all claim types, and net totals, reflecting the repayments made against the original claims are searchable on the net for the public's curiosity and right to know. THERE ARE NO PER DIEMS.

In June 2009 more than a million documents and receipts were published online. These related to MPs' claims dating back to 2004/05 and up to 2007/08.

In December 2009 these pages were updated to include information about MPs' claims for costs incurred when staying away from their main home in 2008/09 and the first quarter of 2009/10.

Parliament publishes
"The Green Book" which serves as a guide to MP allowances. Pennsylvania legislators have a $10,000 no receipt expense account, free health care, fully paid vision and dental coverage, free prescriptions, fully paid life insurance and long-term care insurance, and the 50% increase in pension benefits the legislators awarded themselves nine years ago.

In order to see what expenses are reimbursed to Pennsylvania legislators you must submit a right to know request. In Britain all you have to do is boot up your computer and have at it.

If Pennsylvania legislators were truly interested in reform quick adoption of this reporting system would be a start.

One other piece of information. In 2009 Members of Parliament were paid the equivalent of $103,918.00(The current annual salary for an MP is £65,738). Keep in mind that is to run a country. They must account for all of the public funds they spend.

Todd Eachus's salary is over $115,000 and Paul Kanjorski's salary is $175,000 plus. Why voters keep returning them to office is beyond me.

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