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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A grand jury that investigated the state legislative corruption scandal known as Bonusgate wants the General Assembly to make sweeping changes, from how it hires and supervises employees to how it provides constituent services and even the way it debates passage of the annual budget.
A 34-page report obtained Monday by The Associated Press describes the Legislature as bloated with unnecessary staff and living in a time warp that reflects practices other states outlawed decades ago.
The grand jury spent the past two years investigating the illegal use of public resources and legislative employees to perform campaign work, the Bonusgate scandal for which 25 people have been charged by the attorney general's office. All the charges have involved the House, rather than the Senate, and the grand jury's suggested reforms also focus more on the House. Two of the defendants have been acquitted.
- Eliminate, or at least make more transparent, the special leadership accounts that give House leaders millions of dollars in discretionary spending to control.
- Stop per diem payments to lawmakers, or at least tie them to actual expenses.
- Convert the General Assembly to a part-time body, impose term limits and give House members four-year terms.
-Revamp the state budget process, making line items more descriptive and halting per diems if the budget is not passed by June 30.