I believe that transparency in state spending is crucial to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent as wisely and efficiently as possible. This page is designed to help make basic spending information easily accessible.
More information about state government is available on my Facebook and by signing up for Email Updates on my homepage .
When I was re-elected to the Senate on November 6, 2012, my salary was $82,026. As of December 1, 2012, my salary is $83, 802. That includes a cost-of-living adjustment of 2.17% in December 2012. I am donating the cost-of-living adjustment to charity.
Mileage and Expense Reimbursement
I have never used a state-owned or state-leased vehicle. Each month, I submit a statement of miles traveled on Senate business to the Senate’s Chief Clerk, requesting reimbursement. The current mileage reimbursement rate, established by the Internal Revenue Service, is 53.5 cents per mile. I submit actual expenses for reimbursement of hotels and meals.
I have two district offices: one in Rochester and one in New Castle. The monthly rent for each of these offices is $2,163 (Rochester) and $686 (New Castle).
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Since my first election in November 2008, one of my primary goals has been to make information about state government — particularly government spending — more easily accessible to the public. To further that goal, I supported all of the following:
PennWATCH: Online Budget Database
Act 18 of 2011 requires the creation of a complete online state budget database known as PennWATCH. This database, designed to make details of state spending easily and freely accessible, became available on December 20, 2012.
Live Senate Video Feeds
Online Bill Room: Roll Call Votes and Fiscal Notes
The General Assembly’s website now includes links to fiscal notes for those bills that have been considered by the Senate or House Appropriations Committee. You can also access the roll call votes for every bill considered in a Senate committee, in a House committee, on the Senate floor, or the House floor.
Website for Mobile Devices
A General Assembly website for mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, Android-based devices, and the BlackBerry has also been created. Visitors can use the site to search for bills by number or keyword, to read bill text, to access information about legislative committees, to watch or listen to Senate and House sessions, and to contact members of the General Assembly.
Sunshine Law: Tougher Penalties
Act 56 of 2011 strengthens penalties for violating Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Law, which requires public access to open meetings and the opportunity for public comment.
Senate Rules of Ethical Conduct
On June 15, 2010, the Senate adopted a set of Rules of Ethical Conduct to make the division between legislative and campaign work clear, to provide annual ethics training, and to establish strong penalties for violations.
Independent Fiscal Office
Pennsylvania’s new Independent Fiscal Office, created by Act 120 of 2010 , will improve the state budget process. The office’s responsibilities include preparing annual revenue estimates, providing an annual assessment of the state’s fiscal condition, developing performance measures for state programs, and analyzing tax and revenue proposals made by the Governor or the Office of the Budget. More information is available at the IFO’s website.
Additionally, the Open Records Law and Online Contract Database (further explained below), established in 2008, have made access to this information more readily available.
Open Records Law
Pennsylvania’s new Open Records Law ( Act 3 of 2008 ) makes many government records easily available to interested residents. Information about how to request records from any state executive branch office or local government office is available from the Office of Open Records. Information about requesting records from the Senate, the House, and the state Judiciary is also available.
Online Contract Database
Pennsylvania’s new Open Records Law also created an online contract database. State contracts valued at $5,000 or more are included in this database, which can be searched by agency, contracting party, contract amount, date, and subject matter.
OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION
In addition to those listed above, the following resources provide additional information designed to make the operation of state government more transparent and accountable.
Lobbyist Disclosure Reports
Pennsylvania’s Lobbying Disclosure Law, Act 134 of 2006 , requires lobbyists and principals (the companies and individuals who hire lobbyists) to file quarterly reports. The Department of State maintains an online database of lobbyists, principals and the required reports .
Statements of Financial Interest
The Governor, members of the General Assembly, and other public officials are required to file Statements of Financial Interest with the State Ethics Commission. The Statements of Financial Interest are all available on the Commission’s website.