The Pennsylvania Legislature’s spending, including on lawmaker and staff salaries, rose last year, and its surplus also grew to a record $261 million, according to a report made public Wednesday.
The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission’s annual statement of the General Assembly’s financial affairs showed overall spending reached $392 million for the year that ended last June. That’s a jump from $380 million in the previous year’s report and is about equal to spending during the 2019-20 year.
The budgetary reserve is defended by leaders as a way to insulate the legislative branch during a potential budgetary impasse with the governor. It’s nearly tripled from $95 million in the past six years.
The Legislature’s current pension obligation is about $50 million.
The commission, which includes lawmakers from both parties and both chambers, approved the audit report with little comment on Tuesday. It was not made public until Wednesday morning.
The cost to operate the 50-member Senate was $125 million last year, $222 million for the 203-member House and about $45 million for other expenses, including data processing and the Legislative Reference Bureau.
Pennsylvania has the country’s largest full-time Legislature and a large staff, including hundreds of district offices throughout the state. Lawmakers were in voting session for about 50 days during the yearlong 2021-22 audit period.
The Camp Hill accounting firm of Boyer and Ritter was paid nearly $168,000 to produce the report.