February 27, 2009

Pa. taxpayers buy legislative scripture

The Pennsylvania General Assembly admits spending $13,700 on 220 Bibles, Torahs and Korans for legislators to use while they take their oath of office.

The state Senate also bought holy books for 24 of the 25 members sworn in this year, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. But the upper house refused to provide details about the cost.

Holy Moses, said Eric Epstein, founder of RockTheCapital.org. By the time you arrive at this station in your life, you shouldn't need the taxpayers to pay for your moral boarding pass.

In the Assembly, only seven of the 203 members did not get a book. The most popular of the dozen or so options was the New American Catholic Bible, with 72 copies distributed.

The books on offer ranged in price from $30 to $90 with embossing of the legislator's name adding $15.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, a Pittsburgh Democrat who got his sixth legislative Torah, said that the cost is tiny compared to the $28 billion state budget but acknowledged taxpayers might take a dim view of the free books.

At a time like this, maybe people should be asked to bring their own scripture with them, he said.