News Release: Paycheck Protection Passes State Senate

Legislation Would End Use of Taxpayer Resources to Aid Political Activity

February 8, 2017, HARRISBURG, Pa.—The State Senate today passed paycheck protection legislation, SB 166, which would end the use of taxpayer resources to collect money earmarked for politics.

“For decades, Pennsylvania taxpayers have been forced to help government union leaders gather millions of dollars earmarked for political activity,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president for the Commonwealth Foundation. “It’s a crime for elected officials to use public resources for politics, yet government union leaders have enjoyed a perk that lets them bypass this commonsense principle. Today, the Senate took a stand to protect the integrity of public dollars, give union members a greater voice in how their money is spent, and restore fairness to the political process.”

In 2015 alone, Pennsylvania’s largest government unions collected and spent more than $7 million in campaign contributions. They also spent an additional $5.3 million from mandatory union dues on politics and lobbying.

Since 2007, government unions have spent nearly $100 million on politics. Almost all of these funds were deducted directly from workers’ paychecks and sent to union leaders using public payroll systems—making taxpayers the bagmen for union leaders’ political agenda.

Paycheck protection simply requires government unions to collect their own political money, just like everyone else. Sixty-seven percent of Pennsylvania voters support correcting the unfair system that lets unions leaders use taxpayers as unwilling third parties to their political fundraising.

See the chart below for a detailed breakdown of government union political spending.

SB 166, sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger, allows government unions to collect and spend political money but prevents them from using government resources to do so. The bill also allows the continued collection of all union dues and fees used for collective bargaining and other representational activities. The bill does not affect collective bargaining rights for government unions.

“No Pennsylvanian should be forced to fund someone else’s politics,” Benefield continued. “This legislation protects union members and all taxpayers from having their money hijacked for partisan political activity in which they have little to no say. We urge the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass paycheck protection quickly.”

Paycheck protection constitutional amendment SB 167, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wagner, advanced out of committee last week but has not yet been scheduled for a full Senate vote.

For more information on paycheck protection and government union political spending, visit CommonwealthFoundation.org/PaycheckProtection.

Nathan Benefield and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or gld@commonwealthfoundation.org to schedule an interview.

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