Pennsylvania lawmakers will see a nice bump in their paychecks starting this week.

They also had the day off.

In fact, it being the start of the two-week rifle deer season, they don't have to come back to work until next Monday.

Not a bad way to kick off your new raise, with a vacation.

State lawmakers get their 3 percent raise beginning on Dec. 1, which pushes the annual salary for rank-and-file legislators above $80,000 for the first time.

The automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which is based on the rate of inflation, means legislators will now earn $82,026, up from the current $79,623, according to news reports.

The four legislative caucus leaders will now earn $118,845 per year, up from $115,364.

Raises for top executive branch and judicial positions take effect Jan. 1. The governor's annual salary will rise to $183,250, from $177,888. But Gov. Corbett has said he will only take the 2010 rate of $174,914 and will donate his raise to charity, though he did not say which one.

Corbett and other elected officials who direct their raises to charities are still eligible for higher pensions.

The COLA was authorized in 1995. But when lawmakers passed an additional pay hike in July 2005, in a post-midnight vote, they incurred the wrath of the voters who sent a dozen of them packing. The pay raise was later rescinded but the Supreme Court upheld the raises for themselves. The move cost a Supreme Court justice, Russell M. Nigro, his seat on the bench in a retention election later that year.

One state lawmaker,  Rep.  Brad Roae (R., Crawford), wants to suspend the COLA - at least for state House members. Last month he introduced HB 1952, which has 16 co-sponsors, that would suspend the 2011 raise for the House.  The bill is still stuck in the state government committee.

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