Another day, another example of waste in the General Assembly, as highlighted by the 28th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.

'Friends and family' plan

One reason for the bloated cost of the General Assembly is the party leaders' partisan patronage hiring. Meet Bernadette Runk, former director of human resources for the House Republican Caucus. Democrats have their own human-resources staff, too.

The grand jury called Runk "an excellent example of the peril to the taxpayers posed by partisan staffing." Runk invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when the grand jury asked if she knew of any state employees in the Republican caucus who had used "comp time" to work on political campaigns.

When Runk retired on June 30, 2009, she was earning a taxpayer-funded salary of $112,840. But the office of House Republican Leader Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) immediately rehired Runk as a "consultant" at the same pay. This time, however, she was required to work only three days per week.

Smith's office said Runk's retirement had created an "emergency." GOP leaders said Runk's absence would "severely impair service to the public." That's the kind of service taxpayers don't need.

To read the grand jury's report, go to: www.philly.com/bonusgate