Rendell reverses on raise

The governor accepts two pay increases that raise his pay 7.7 percent.
HARRISBURG (AP) -- Gov. Ed Rendell probably won some admirers last year when he refused to accept an annual pay raise due to him under state law, but he has apparently decided that the good press wasn't worth the cost.
Breaking with his past practice, Rendell on Jan. 1 not only accepted the 5.2 percent "cost-of-living" adjustment he was scheduled to receive in 2005, but also belatedly accepted the 2.4 percent salary increase that he had initially turned down in 2004.
Taken together, the two raises will increase his salary to $155,572, up about 7.7 percent from the $144,416 he made last year.
Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll and the administration's cabinet secretaries, who had also decided to forgo pay raises last year, again followed Rendell's lead and accepted their pay increases for 2005.
The salaries of the governor and his cabinet are set by a 1995 state law that gives automatic annual raises tied to changes in the Philadelphia Consumer Price Index.
When Rendell and his top advisers initially turned down their raises, Rendell said they were doing so because Pennsylvania needed the money, and he didn't believe it was fair for them to accept a pay increase at a time when other state employees were being asked to accept pay freezes.
Times different
Since then, things have changed. State workers' salaries rose 2.25 percent last July and will increase 3 percent next July, said Rendell's press secretary Kate Philips.
"He thinks it's only fair the Cabinet officials get the pay increase because they did forgo that pay increase in the first two years, and no other branch of government did that," Philips said.
"They'll never get that money back."
She said a second factor in the decision was a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service that had required the governor and cabinet officials to pay taxes on their salaries as if they had accepted the raise, even though they had turned it down.
Service Employees International Union Local 668 President Joan Bruce criticized the governor for accepting the pay increase.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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