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Most agree that repeal was the right thing

November 17, 2005|by DON AINES and RICHARD F. BELISLE

FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA.

Most area residents questioned Wednesday agreed about the pay raise which Pennsylvania legislators voted for themselves earlier this year.

Residents thought that the repeal of the pay raise that was signed into law Wednesday was the right thing to do.

"I think it was smart" to vote for the repeal, said David Sciamanna, a Chambersburg (Pa.) School Board member and executive director of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.

While many of those who fought to have the pay raise repealed are pleased with the vote, some said all is not forgotten or forgiven.

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"Anybody who took any money should give it back," Carl Barton, president of the Chambersburg Area Taxpayers' Association, said Wednesday, speaking of the unvouchered expenses that some lawmakers used to access the pay raise before it officially was to have gone into effect next year.

Barton said he expects a number of incumbent legislators in the state to face challengers in next year's primary and election despite the about-face on the pay raise.

"They never should have taken it in the first place," said Paul Ambrose, a retired educator from Chambersburg, Pa. "They need to have more sensitivity to the general public," said Ambrose, who was elected to the school board Nov. 8.

Barton said the General Assembly has a history of helping itself at the expense of taxpayers.

"In 2001, the legislature gave itself a 50 percent retirement increase and to appear not greedy, they gave teachers and state employees a 25 percent increase," Barton said.

"That had a tremendous effect on school budgets," Ambrose said of the pension increase, which has resulted in much-higher contributions from school districts to fund the pension plans.

"I think they're entitled to a decent pay, but I think they went too far," said Stephen Monn, a Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Council member. "They have an inflationary clause (in their salary schedule), but they went beyond the balance point."

Benjamin Greenawalt, 73, of Waynesboro, said "the people have been telling them that they want their government back, that they're not going to let them (legislators) run roughshod over them."

Lee Layman, 64, of Waynesboro, said while he believed legislators need a reasonable raise, "what passed earlier was a bit much. But I'm still going to vote for my legislator," he said.

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