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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Summary of Supreme Court Ruling on Pay Raise

The PA Supreme Court Opinion on the pay raise, issued today (view the last two pages for the Conclusion) makes the following decisions:

1) The repeal (Act 72 of 2005) of the pay raise (Act 44) violates the constitutional provision barring a reduction of judicial pay.

2) The exemption for the provision that judicial pay can be reduced if all "all salaried officers" is not valid, because the repeal did not reduce pay for all salaried officers. They make two claims, first that many "salaried officers" did not see their pay reduced, as they were not affected by the pay raise. Second, that the executive branch officials who were named in Act 44 did not see their pay diminished, because their salary would not have increased until January 1, 2007; judges received their pay raise immediately.

The ruling also states "it is not necessary to pronounce a precise or comprehensive definition for the term 'salaried officers of the Commonwealth.'

3) The ruling does not affect the cost of living adjustment for judges, essentially applying the COLA established prior to the original pay raise to the salary set in Act 44.

4) The Unvouchered Expenses provision was unconstitutional. There is no discussion on requiring that money to be repaid.

5)The "nonseverability provision" of the pay raise, which would require striking down the entire bill if any portion was struck down, was ruled "unenforceable," thus the unvouchered expenses provision was unconstitutional, but the rest of the pay raise was ruled valid.

6)Judges must be reimbursed for the lost compensation since the passage of Act 72.

The dissenting opinion of Justice Saylor primarily on the "nonseverability" provision, which he thinks could have been ignore, but should not have. Thus the pay raise, Act 44, in its entirety, would have been considered unconstitutional, and judges salary "should be maintained at the pre-Act 44 levels"

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