“Rep. Dally and I agreed that at a time when many residents of Pennsylvania and Northampton County are facing unemployment or reduced employment it would not be proper to take the cost of living increase,” Grucela said.
Neither by law nor by Commonwealth Supreme Court ruling are lawmakers allowed to refuse the COLA. The legislators will, instead, write checks to the county children and youth office. The COLA is approximately $1,500 for each member.
“It is our opinion that these funds can be put to better use taking care of the children in Northampton County rather than returned to the state General Fund and spent at the governor’s discretion.” Dally said.
The funds will go into a special account to purchase counseling services for children and families. This area of purchased services has been particularly hard hit by the recent budget cutbacks.
“The Children, Youth and Families Division is very appreciative of the donation of funds from Representatives Dally and Grucela,” said Division Director Kevin E. Dolan. “These funds are vital during what are lean budget times. The goal of the counseling services is to keep children safe in their homes.”
The state’s current revenues are far below projections and cuts to state programs and services are likely in the current fiscal year.
Gov. Ed Rendell announced a wage freeze for more than 13,600 non-union employees and directed 51 cabinet and executive officials to donate back, after state and federal taxes, the net amount of a 2.8 percent cost-of-living increase mandated by a 1995 law.