HARRISBURG - At least two state appellate court judges are giving back the pay raises that the legislature approved in 2005, and Debra Todd wants voters to know that she's one of them.
Todd, a Superior Court judge and Democratic candidate for the Supreme Court, has paid the state treasury $17,640, the Treasury Department confirmed yesterday - representing the after-tax value of her raise from July 1, 2005, through June 30 of this year.
The payments, which exclude the annual cost-of-living adjustments that judges receive, will continue in the future, said campaign spokesman Alison Rudolph Hall, who was spreading the word yesterday in response to a newspaper editorial that characterized fellow Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin as the only judge who had given back income from the politically charged pay raises.
Melvin, a Republican, filed a lawsuit seeking to reduce her salary to the level that prevailed when she was elected in 1997 - eliminating the need to pay taxes on the income - plus subsequent cost-of-living increases. She appealed a lower court's rejection of the suit to the Supreme Court.
Melvin, seeking a second 10-year term in a retention vote in November, kept the after-tax portion of her raise in escrow until last month, when she sent the Treasury Department a check for more than $14,000.
Todd has been comparatively low-key about the payments she has been making since Dec. 31.
"She did it without pomp and circumstance. She didn't sue anybody," Hall said of Todd, who she said objected to the manner in which the raises were approved.
Currently, a Superior Court judge is entitled to $165,000 a year.
The legislature's July 2005 approval of pay raises for top officials in all three branches of state government ignited a political storm. Lawmakers repealed the raises four months later. A year ago, however, the state Supreme Court resuscitated the judicial pay raises.