House comptroller confirms Burns request to withhold paycheck as long as state budget is unresolved

EBENSBURG, Aug. 2 – As he’s voluntarily done before, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is again refusing to accept a state paycheck during the current budget stalemate – a position confirmed in a letter circulated today from the House comptroller.

“This letter will confirm that my office is holding your paychecks from July 1 until the rest of the budget is passed,” wrote comptroller Mary-Jo Mullen in the Aug. 2 correspondence.

Burns said that he’s traditionally gone without a paycheck as long as the state budget is unfinished, most notably during the nine-month impasse of 2015-16, because of a strong belief that legislators should set an example.

“I firmly believe that if the legislature didn’t get paid until this work was done, we wouldn’t keep having these budget impasses,” Burns said. “I may be in the minority in thinking like this, but my conscience won’t let me accept a payday from the taxpayers as long as this fundamental part of our job remains unfinished.”

Burns said it’s philosophically and morally disingenuous for the legislature to approve a spending plan by the July 1 fiscal year deadline, but fail to pass the necessary revenue-raising legislation to complete the package.

“This abdication of a fundamental duty is something my constituents are very upset about, and rightly so,” Burns said. “To them, it’s not a Democratic thing or a Republican thing, it’s a ‘do your job’ thing. And I, as one rank-and-file member, won’t take a paycheck even if it’s because others aren’t doing their jobs.”