In an effort to produce savings, increase efficiency and promote public confidence in the state House, Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) has introduced legislation to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 203 to 151 members.
The legislation would increase the population size of the House districts by approximately a third, bringing the ratio of lawmakers in Pennsylvania more in line with other states.
“Pennsylvania has the second-largest legislature in the United States,” said Gaydos. “It is also a full time Legislature. Reducing its size will streamline the legislative process, make it easier for lawmakers to reach consensus and save taxpayers’ money.”
Based on the 2010 United States Census, Pennsylvania is ranked sixth in population, followed by California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. When examining the legislatures of the top eight states on the population list, each state, even those with a smaller population than Pennsylvania, have fewer legislators and larger districts.
In addition, at a salary of $90,335 for each rank-and-file House member, the savings on salary alone would come to $4.7 million. Add in benefits and perks, and the total savings could top $15 million annually.
“With the constant improvement and evolution of technology, legislators can respond to constituents more quickly and efficiently than ever,” said Gaydos. “Using existing technology would make it possible to reduce the size of the Legislature without sacrificing efficiency, communication with constituents or increasing expenses.
Because such a change would necessitate an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, identical versions of the bill would need to pass through the General Assembly in back-to-back sessions. At that point, the public would vote on the amendment in a statewide referendum.
“A smaller, more efficient legislature would allow for more robust discussions and clearer debates, providing more time to each member to have his or her voice heard,” said Gaydos.
House Bill 482
is now with the House State Government Committee for consideration.
Representative Valerie Gaydos
44th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner