Attempts to reduce the size of the Legislature and other branches of state government appear to be failing — again.
In the words of Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise.
The only way the 253-member Legislature can be reduce is through a constitutional amendment. To get to the amendment process, lawmakers have to approve the same bills over two legislative sessions. That would mean lawmakers would have to vote twice to end their own jobs that have a pay salary of more than $84,000 that rises annually and lifetime benefits.
So far, that’s not likely.
In December, the House passed two reduction bills. One slashed the 203-member House by 50 lawmakers; the other cut the 50-member Senate by a dozen.
The bills then languished in the Senate, which had its own government reduction bills.
On Thursday, Senate President Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, sought to amend the bills to eliminate the lieutenant governor, which would have put the senate president next in line to be the state’s chief executive if the governor resigned or died. Scarnati’s other amendment would have cut the number of judges on the state Supreme and Superior courts.
Scarnati's amendments failed when Sen. Matt Smith, D-Allegheny, got affirmative votes on his amendment to keep the lieutenant governor and Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, got approval on his amendment retaining the courts.
The House is another matter for the Senate, however.
It has made one of two affirmative votes, to approve the House bill to reduce the House. The Senate has not vote on the House bill to reduce the Senate.
If the Senate does not approve the Senate bill, it’s doubtful the House will vote to only reduce itself.