HARRISBURG-- Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) has introduced three bills to reform state government by limiting the number of terms served by House and Senate members, by holding legislators accountable when they fail to pass a budget on time, and to prevent state government from shutting down when the Legislature fails to pass a budget by June 30.
Thomas has introduced House Bill 902
, which is an amendment to the state Constitution that would increase the length of a House member’s term from two to four years, and a senator’s term from four to six years.
The amendment would also limit the terms of House and Senate members to three consecutive full terms.
“By increasing the term length while setting term limits, my proposed amendment enables Pennsylvania to have fresh perspectives in government while allowing those members who are elected to focus on serving the people instead of worrying about reelection,” Thomas said.
A member of the House, who reaches the maximum number of consecutive terms, may seek election to the House after a two-year hiatus, and a member of the Senate, who reaches the maximum number of consecutive terms, can be eligible for election to the Senate after four years.
“Each year the Legislature must pass a budget by June 30. But in recent years there have been several years where the Legislature and governor failed to reach an on-time budget agreement,” Thomas said. “When that happens, contractors are not paid and important programs can be interrupted.”
Under House Bill 903
, if a budget is not adopted by the start of a new fiscal year, legislators would not be paid. Nor would they receive retroactive pay when the impasse ends.
“Our counties, municipalities, and state contractors must consider short-term loans or liquidate investments in order to prevent interruption of critical programs as a budget impasse lingers,” Thomas said. “Legislators, elected officials and cabinet officers should face the same uncertainties.”
House Bill 904
would ensure that Pennsylvanians receive essential services during a budget stalemate.
“My bill would require the Commonwealth maintain state appropriations at 80 percent of the prior year level if a General Fund budget is not enacted by June 30 of any year,” Thomas said.
A budget impasse in 2015 left schools, social service agencies, and colleges and universities being dangerously underfunded for an unprecedented period. In 2017, a budget impasse continued for three months without a revenue plan to fund the budget until October of that year.
“This year’s federal government shutdown afflicted nearly a million U.S. families and reminded many Pennsylvanian’s of the possibility of this happening again in Pennsylvania,” Thomas said.
House Bill 904 mimics legislation already in the Senate. “This increases the likelihood of this reform becoming a reality,” Thomas said.
Representative Wendi Thomas
178th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster