State lawmaker spending for East Penn area

Couple thoughts:
I am glad PA has a professional legislature but size of house should be reduced. In theory a professional legislature makes sense for a state the size of Pennsylvania. However, the size of the house needs to be reduced. Currently in the Senate the average district handles about 250,000 residents. In the house it’s 60,000. I think that number can be increased to about 100,000 residents per district in the house.

I think Reps & Senators should only make the average median income of the district they represent. I wrote about this couple years ago.  Today, the average salaries for our elected officials in PA are the 2nd highest in the nation for professional state legislators.

Clearly, we still need some reform of expenses in both chambers. The Senate is heading in the right direction. At least this past year having reduced expenses 14%. Still, the discrepancies in both chambers between the high spenders and the low spenders remain far too great. And in a lot of cases hard to justify.

This isn’t a partisan problem. We have big spenders and frugal spenders on both sides of the aisle. 

Lastly, I think the Morning Call does a pretty good job pulling together this information each year. Great work by our local newspaper.

Each House district represents an average of 60,498 residents. Pay is an average of 78,000

Gary Day – 68,915.41 (rank 9th highest out of 203)
Ryan Mackenzie – 50,563.09 (rank 124 out of 203)
Justin Simmons – 38,016.89 (rank 176 out of 203)

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Each state Senate district represents an average population of 254,047 residents. Pay is an average of 85,000

Looks like for Senators office lease totals are reported as yearly and for the house it’s monthly. Note: Some Senators maintain multiple district offices. For example Lisa Boscola maintains 3. Bethlehem, Whitehall and Easton. Personally, I think that’s a justified service to constituents since Senatorial districts are so large.

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Lehigh Valley Legislators talk budget

Collection of social media posts. Tried to get one from every west Valley official. If I missed anyone send me a link and I’ll include. Did this quick.

Everything is hyper political now of course.. but you can glean useful information from most of these. Posted video where available. (thanks to all local officials who actively maintain social media!)

I think the Republican proposal hits alot of the most critical points. But neither is perfect. Here is what I think is most important.

In no particular order..

Rep. Ryan Mackenzue. 134th (Includes Lower Macungie)

Senator Pat Browne – 16th District (includes Lower Macungie)
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Rep. Justin Simmons floor comments. 131st
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Rep. Michael Schlossberg. 132nd

Rep. Gary Day 187th
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Sen. Bob Mensch

Rep. Peter Schweyer

Senator Pat Browne letter of support for 222 upgrades

Couple weeks ago I posted a letter from Rep. Ryan Mackenzie in support of Rt. 222 upgrades including grade separated interchanges. (on and off ramps at Millcreek and Krocks) Today we were copied on a formal letter from state Sen. Pat Browne. These letters are in response to a letter writing/petition campaign I started in March.

The de-stroadification of the underperforming roadway would allow for a more free flowing bypass. This is critical to ensure regional traffic flows as Rt. 222 provides a critical connection between the cities of Reading and Allentown. This connection essential on a regional scale as well as local scale to ensure freight traffic can get safely and efficiently in and out of Upper and Lower Macungie. This is a quality of life, economic development and most important a safety issue.

Have you signed the petition yet? It takes about a minute.

Here is a copy of the Senators letter:

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Digging deeper into Lower Mac results.

Local results
Statewide Tom Wolf won handedly. This was expected. Here in Lower Macungie however, Tom Corbett squeezed out more votes with high turnout at all polls edging out Wolf 52%-48%. With just under 10,000 votes cast Corbett won 9 out of 10 voting precincts in Lower Mac. The only one edging out for Tom Wolf was LMT 6 representing areas south of Rt. 100 and including the Hills at Lockridge. The biggest win for Corbett was LMT 8.


In the other contested race in the township for State Senator across the 16th district Sen. Pat Browne won easily 62% to 38%. The 16th is very diverse including a large part of the City of Allentown, Upper Macungie, Lower Macungie, Macungie, Alburtis and up into rural areas of NW Lehigh. Here in Lower Mac the moderate Republican had one of his best showings winning with nearly 70% of the total vote. 


What’s the takeaway? Lower Macungie remains very Republican but tends to prefer moderates. The State Senate race demonstrated that township Democrat voters are willing to support a moderate Republican who is strong on education and growth. (I spent alot of my time talking to voters at LMT 1 about Browne’s NIZ) For example this is most clear in LMT 6 the only precinct Wolf (D) won but where Sen. Browne (R) still won with over 60% of the vote. In this precinct many who voted for Wolf split their ballot and also voted for Browne.


I think that this reflects voters in LMT by and large do not just pull levers based on party but rather look closely at candidates. That is a very good thing. We have in both parties sophisticated high information voters.

My thoughts working a poll:

I worked LMT 1 for Sen. Browne for about 8 hours one that went 70% in favor of him.
The weather was awesome so many people wanted to stop and chat. Not many wanted to talk about state issues. Most were well informed and asked questions about local. This is very nice to see.


One takeaway is people still want to talk about Hamilton Crossings. Opinions are wide ranging on the merits of the actual center. Many are excited for it while others are nervous about it specifically traffic issues. This makes sense since district 1 is closest to the center. Most are still confused why we authorized a TIF with an opinion that the center would have still come without it. I think this represents very high information voters who really took time to understand the issue.
No surprise also lots of questions about Quarry Park which has gotten some newspaper coverage. The comments largely mirrored those of the residents who made public comment at the last budget workshop. Most aren’t against spending money on parks but question the value of synthetic fields vs. other higher priorities. Fair questions.


Clearly, LMT residents are very plugged in to local issues. This is not the norm and a reflection on our informed and engaged residents.
Lastly, and as always HUGE thanks to poll workers! These volunteers are amazing and are a huge part of our democracy. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! 

Pennsylvania spends more on road expansion than repair

Pennsylvania spends more on new road expansion than we do on maintaining our existing network – despite financial liabilities mounting & conditions not improving. Meanwhile, we just raised the gas tax.

Here is a link to an eye opening study by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common sense.

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have—despite the fact that roads are crumbling, financial liabilities are mounting and conditions are not improving for America’s drivers.
-Executive Summary

Here’s the statistical breakdown for PA:
*dollar figures in millions

Average annual state expenditures on road expansion versus repair, 2009–2011

Average annual state expenditures on road expansion versus repair, 2009–2011 From “Repair Priorities 2014 Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads.

So we have above representing Pennsylvania’s most recent spending reality. (Again remember, we just raised gas taxes to address a “crisis” level concern. Which of course is pretty much universally acknowledged as a band-aid at best.) This in my opinion is a problem in and of itself, but meanwhile here are the results of this failed strategy…

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Here is another little tidbit from the report PA specific:
Pennsylvania as stated above is spending 877 million a year in repair. What’s the liability? 2,203 million. That’s a deficiency of 1,326 million annually.

Pennsylvania reflects the Nationwide trend of spending billions for marginal benefit. “States spent $20.4 billion on road expansion each year between 2009 and 2011. During that time our state-owned road network increased by 8,822 lane-miles, less than 1 percent. Meanwhile, America’s driving measured in vehicle-miles traveled, remained fairly stable during this two-year period, yet traffic congestion in urban areas did not change. It’s a statistical fact: States’ investments in expansion are yielding little gain for drivers despite the substantial cost.”

My question is whose going take some leadership in Pennsylvania? Road conditions are deteriorating yet our spending problems are focused on expansion which at best provide negligible results in level of service improvements. Whose going to break the broken cycle?

I’m looking towards our local state officials for leadership here. @Senator Pat Browne, @Representative Ryan Mackenzie, @Representative Justin Simmons, @Representative Michael Schlossberg (House transportation committee). Anyone paying attention to this?