Pennsylvania state Rep. Gerald Mullery wants to end automatic pay raises for the state’s elected officials, claiming the increases are unfair amid stagnant wages in the private sector.

Mullery, D-Luzerne, introduced House Bill 2122, this week to repeal the annual cost-of-living adjustment included in the Public Official Compensation Law of 1983, less than a week after lawmakers received a 5.7% salary increase – the largest in decades.

“Annual pay raises are not guaranteed to many Pennsylvania workers and that should be the same for our General Assembly and other elected leaders,” Mullery said in a statement. “In these polarized times, eliminating automatic pay raises would be a good step toward restoring the public’s trust in government.”

The change would affect the General Assembly’s 253 lawmakers, hundreds of state and county judges, the governor and his cabinet, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, auditor general and others.

Annual salaries for lawmakers increased more than $5,000 last week to a base of $95,432, while legislative leaders, committee chairs and those with additional responsibilities now make up to nearly $150,000.

The automatic increases are tied by state law to the consumer price index and involve a total of more than 1,300 positions in state government. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the pay increase for 2022 is the largest year-over-year increase since 1991. The raise is also three times the amount officials received for 2020, according to The Associated Press.

The increases make Pennsylvania lawmakers the third-highest paid in the country, behind California and New York, which have base legislative salaries of $114,877 and $110,000, respectively.

The news wire reported federal data through August showed average weekly earnings for private sector workers in Pennsylvania increased 4.4% since the same time last year, to $974.24.

“Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has not increased since 2007 and wages have remained stagnant, yet our elected officials receive these annual raises automatically,” Mullery said. “It is an insult to the thousands of hardworking Pennsylvanians who are not afforded the same entitlement.”

Mullery joined Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, in opposition to the raises. Ryan sponsored successful legislation last year to freeze the automatic increase, estimated at less than 1%. He sponsored the same bill in 2021, House Bill 583, and the measure was approved by the House State Government Committee but did not receive a vote on the House floor.

“It has a total impact of about $20 million, … and so what I wanted to do was show that the commonwealth is in pretty serious financial distress,” Ryan told FOX43.

“I think it would’ve passed unanimously, but I think our leadership team wanted to see what was going to be the grand scheme,” he said. “Where does this end and how do we get government spending under control?”

The raises for lawmakers took effect Dec. 1, while the slated increase for executive branch employees and others begins Jan. 1.