The Pennsylvania Legislature’s spending, including on lawmaker and staff salaries, rose last year, and its surplus also grew to a record $261 million, according to a report made public Wednesday.
The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission’s annual statement of the General Assembly’s financial affairs showed overall spending reached $392 million for the year that ended last June. That’s a jump from $380 million in the previous year’s report and is about equal to spending during the 2019-20 year.
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The budgetary reserve is defended by leaders as a way to insulate the legislative branch during a potential budgetary impasse with the governor. It’s nearly tripled from $95 million in the past six years.
The Legislature’s current pension obligation is about $50 million.
The commission, which includes lawmakers from both parties and both chambers, approved the audit report with little comment on Tuesday. It was not made public until Wednesday morning.
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The cost to operate the 50-member Senate was $125 million last year, $222 million for the 203-member House and about $45 million for other expenses, including data processing and the Legislative Reference Bureau.
Pennsylvania has the country’s largest full-time Legislature and a large staff, including hundreds of district offices throughout the state. Lawmakers were in voting session for about 50 days during the yearlong 2021-22 audit period.
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The Camp Hill accounting firm of Boyer and Ritter was paid nearly $168,000 to produce the report.