Here is the letter I sent the Post-Gazette, and published in yesterday’s Opinion section:
To the Editor:
Our House expenditures are related to our responsibilities as legislators.
Unfortunately, we were not made aware of the redactions in the expense reports referred to in last week’s Post-Gazette editorial. As soon as we did, we voluntarily turned over all requested records without redaction – which should have been done in the first place.
We apologize to those reporters who requested this information in that it was not provided without redaction.
We understand there is no evidence of misspending of public money, but everyone is entitled to view how their tax dollars are spent, and the public has a right to know.
Under my leadership, we've governed responsibly.
• We established definitive lines between legislative responsibilities and campaign activities.
• We eliminated legislator car leases. We tightened reimbursement rules and lowered expenditures. Just like the private sector, we enacted health care contributions and moved to defined-contribution-type plans.
• We made the House, and all state government more open, transparent and accountable. We started PennWatch, an online database of state expenses where citizens and the media can look up contracts, salaries and expenses.
• We enhanced penalties for Sunshine Act violations.
• We closed loopholes to prohibit conflicts of interests in state contracting.
• We passed performance-based budgeting.
• We expanded the Lobbying Disclosure Act and increased fines and penalties for violations.
We think that the expenses of all branches of government, including the Judiciary and Executive need thorough public examination as well.
We have passed balanced budgets, reduced debt and held the line on tax increases. We have worked to grow the economy, create jobs and improved education. We seek opportunities for each and every citizen of Pennsylvania.
We have unquestionably changed the culture of Harrisburg for the better since the days of the “Pay Raise” and “Bonusgate.” We have succeeded on many fronts, but we have more to do.
Mike Turzai, 28th Legislative District
The Speaker of the House
Pennsylvania House of Representatives