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Rock going without pay until Pa. budget passes

August 17, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- State Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin, announced Monday that he will go without a paycheck until Pennsylvania has a 2009-10 budget.

Rock said that although it will be a strain on his household finances, he cannot accept pay when libraries and human service agencies are suffering because of suspended funding.

"I can't in good conscience take my paycheck. I'm not going to take it until they're funded," Rock said.

State Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, questioned Rock's move, saying the representative had an opportunity to help expedite the budget process.

"The Senate passed a balanced budget, and Todd Rock voted against it. I was dumbfounded by it," Alloway said.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, said he, too, didn't accept the latest paycheck.

Rock said that as a rank-and-file legislator, he has little control over the budget, which is negotiated by Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, and select legislative leaders. Almost 50 days have passed since the budget deadline.

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Rock predicted that a budget might not be passed until late November or December, when the legislature starts being pressured more by the state's 500 school districts. Those districts are mostly using property tax revenue to pay bills until state contributions resume.

"I'm thinking something has to happen when they start running out of money," Rock said.

Approximately 46 House members and one senator have committed to foregoing pay, according to Rock.

Legislators and nearly 77,000 state workers had paychecks suspended July 1. A stopgap budget measure that passed in early August resumed pay.

Rock said his decision came after receiving many calls at his offices in regard to agencies' struggles to provide services without money.

"You've got to take a stand," he said.

Rock also skipped a Norfolk Southern event attended by Rendell in Antrim Township, Pa., last week. While there, Rendell talked about $45 million of state funding for development of a rail-truck facility.

"What will (agencies) think of me when they see me in the newspaper with the governor who is denying them money? I think that just validates what he's doing," Rock said, saying Rendell didn't need to line-item veto some human services funding from the stopgap budget.

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