Original jurisdiction in case of Concerned Taxpayers of Allegheny County, a nonprofit corporation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Grace Sloan, State Treasurer.
Joseph M. Loughren, with him Robert E. Wayman, and Wayman, Irvin & McAuley, for plaintiff.
Melvin R. Shuster, Deputy Attorney General, with him J. Justin Blewitt, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for defendant.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 520]
The Concerned Taxpayers of Allegheny County (Taxpayers), a nonprofit corporation organized "for the purpose of promoting responsible tax policies within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," has filed a Bill In Equity, seeking to enjoin the defendants, the Commonwealth and State Treasurer, from disbursing funds in accordance with Section 6 of the Act of June 29, 1976, (Act), P.L. 452, 65 P.S. § 364, alleging said Act to be unconstitutional.*fn1
The Act recreates the Commonwealth Compensation Commission (CCC),*fn2 requiring that it "make an exhaustive study of the salaries, emoluments, mileage, per diem, travel and other expense allowances
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 521]
and reimbursements" payable to members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Commonwealth. The CCC is then required to make a periodic report of these studies to the respective branches of government. Unless rejected in whole or in part by concurrent resolution of the General Assembly, or if specific legislation differs from the pay schedule contained within the report, the report itself then takes effect and has the force and effect of law.
The Taxpayers complain that this delegation of power to the CCC violates Article II, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution by delegating a legislative function without adequate guidelines, as well as Article II, Section 8 which provides that members of the General Assembly shall receive such salaries and mileage as fixed by law and no other compensation. It is further alleged that the creation of the CCC not only violates the constitutional system of checks and balances set forth in Article III, Section 9, but is also in derogation of Article III, Section 24 requiring a lawful appropriation before public monies may be paid out.
In answer to this panoply of constitutional challenges defendants have filed preliminary objections demurring generally and challenging this Court's jurisdiction to entertain this action.
The defendants' initial jurisdictional challenge is predicated upon Article I, Section 11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution which incorporates the doctrine of sovereign immunity, and permits suits against the Commonwealth only insofar as the Legislature may by law specifically so direct. See Department of ...