THE BONUSGATE grand-jury report has gotten a great deal of media attention. But the report had nothing to do with the specific criminal charges against the individuals they investigated. It's an extremely rare supplemental pronouncement on the state of our government, along with many recommendations for restructuring the legislature.

Because I believe that the report's methodology, conclusions and recommendations are, in many respects, dead wrong, I feel compelled to comment.

First, let me concede that bashing the legislature is easy. Like any profession, we have our bad apples, but it is lazy to generalize their conduct to everyone. And because virtually every citizen is unhappy with some of our decisions, it isn't difficult for a candidate for governor or other office to glean votes by pandering to those who think that only people who are corrupt or stupid could make the decisions we do.

But it's also important to note that the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania's legislators, on both sides of the aisle, are extremely smart, hard-working, completely honest people doing their level best to make Pennsylvania a better place.

The notion that legislators are (except for rare exceptions) corrupt in any way is plain false. And thus any "reforms" based on this notion are ill-grounded.

The grand jury spent months investigating the criminal conduct of a few legislators. It's understandable that with this focus, they became cynical. They didn't spend a great deal of time talking to the 99 percent of lawmakers not accused of a crime about what they do. But because the jury's methodology was incomplete, their factual findings were often inaccurate. And the recommendations based on them were mostly ill-conceived.

An example of sloppy factual assertion appears on Page 6 of the report, which says the "overwhelming majority" of legislators care more about serving themselves than serving their constituents.

There is no support offered for such a claim and after eight years as a legislator, I know it simply isn't true. They also say being a legislator doesn't qualify as full-time work. Wrong again. Most legislators work 70-80 hours a week, every week, and still struggle to keep up.

Inaccurate information leads to poor recommendations. Sure, some of the technical suggestions, such as consolidating the printing offices might have merit, but the broad policy suggestions would do great harm if implemented.

For example, a part-time legislature is a terrible idea. We make decisions affecting tens of billions of dollars in complicated areas like transportation, health care, criminal justice and economic development. In some matters, like abortion, the death penalty and medical care, our decisions have life and death consequences.

Do you really want people making these decisions who just dropped by on their way to taking a deposition or after their shift at Macy's? Shouldn't we demand that our legislators actually take the time to read about issues, go to hearings, meet with advocates, tour facilities - all things that require a full-time commitment?

In some cases, the grand jury's recommendations don't even make sense on their own terms. They bemoan the fact that House members have to run for re-election every two years and suggest expanding their terms to four years. But then, "to limit the damage they can do," they suggest allowing a recall of legislators. Which means that House members will be running not every two years, but every day, as those who didn't vote for the member in the first place constantly put recall questions on the ballot.

Similarly, the grand jury recommends that legislators forfeit pay if the budget isn't passed on time. This is perhaps the most nonsensical and awful idea of all.

THE JURY says it wants lawmakers to think about constituents, not themselves, then suggests a scheme that will force the opposite. If there's a budget that's bad for my constituents, I should feel free to vote "no" without worrying that I won't be able to provide for my family. We'd be paying legislators if they vote yes and not paying them if they vote no. This is usually called bribery, which doesn't sound like the best of reforms.

Space precludes a comprehensive reply to the report. But it's worth repeating that while legislature-bashing may be good fun, it isn't harmless when it results in pernicious policies. It may not be popular to stand up for the good people doing important work in Harrisburg. But if more of us don't do it, our institution and the people of our state will suffer.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat, represents the 17th District in Montgomery and Delaware counties.