Pennsylvania legislators will see their pay increase

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HARRISBURG -- An annual automatic, cost of living salary increase for Pennsylvania legislators went into effect Sunday, though some lawmakers say they plan to donate the increases to charity or return the money to the state.

The 0.251 percent increase gives senators and House members an annual salary of $84,012, from their current pay of $83,802, a $210 increase. Legislative leaders are paid a higher salary but will get the same increase.

The annual cost of living increase became law in the mid-1990s, said Steve Miskin, a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus.

A number of legislators say they don't keep the money.

"I have already written my check to return that," said Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny. "Because we continue to have tight budgets ... I think it's the right thing to do."

Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, said he will donate the funds to a local charity.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, will donate his increase, said a spokeswoman for his office.

Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, said he has always returned the money to the commonwealth since being elected in 2006.

"The trend toward not taking it or giving it to charity has come with the Great Recession," said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus.

The increase takes effect Jan. 1 for judges, row officers and top officials in the executive branch. The governor and Cabinet officials all return the money, said Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett.

Mr. Corbett's pay after returning his cost of living adjustment is $174,914, and chiefs of large state agencies are paid $139,931.

Legislative watchdog Gene Stilp plans to bring his trademark 25-foot pig to demonstrate at the Capitol, in part because of the cost of living increase.

Kate Giammarise:, 1-717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.

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