While Lt. Gov. Stack investigated for abuse of staff, some wonder if position abuses taxpayers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is expected to host a news conference Wednesday at the Capitol to address allegations he and his wife Tonya have been verbally abusive to staffers, both in his security detail and his state-provided residence.

If true, it would be especially shocking given that Pennsylvania’s LG has it VG, as in very good. In fact, Pennsylvania’s #2 is number one in the nation in terms of salary and perks.

Stack’s $160,289 yearly salary is more than any lieutenant governor in the United States, according to information compiled from the National Lieutenant Governors Association. Amazingly, he’s paid more than 40 of 50 governors.

The lieutenant governor’s office has seven staffers assigned to it and is budgeted at $1,038,000 this year.

The association says Pennsylvania is the only state that offers a residence to its second-in-command. The house at Fort Indiantown Gap has five more staffers for cooking and maintenance, according to the Department of General Services.

In the fiscal year that ended in June 2016, according to DGS numbers, the house cost taxpayers $452,920.82. So far this fiscal year, that number is $340,076.45.

Is it money well spent?

No, says Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati.

And he should know. Scarnati served as lieutenant governor for 30 months under Gov. Ed Rendell following the death of Catherine Baker Knoll in 2008. He simultaneously performed his duties as Senate president.

After serving in that capacity, Scarnati pushed to abolish the lieutenant governor’s office, calling it unnecessary.

“Do we need a house for a governor and lieutenant governor?” Scarnati asked passionately during a debate on the Senate floor in June 2014. “Do we need staffs? Do we need all this?” He then suggested forcefully that democracy in Pennsylvania would not crumble if it eliminated its number two.

So while the current lieutenant governor is investigated for abuse of staff, perhaps lawmakers will revisit whether the entire position is an abuse of taxpayers.

The lieutenant governor is first in line to the governor and is required to preside over the Senate and chair the Board of Pardons.

It should be pointed out that Stack did not set the compensation for the office and is not the first to take it.

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