DUNMORE, Pa. -- If you take a new job, you don't go on the payroll a month before you start work, but critics say that's exactly what happens when you get elected to the Pennsylvania State House or Senate.
New lawmakers went on the payroll Monday, a full month before they're to be sworn into office.
State representatives and senators now have a base pay of about $88,000. It means newly elected lawmakers will be paid about $7,400 before they are sworn in as a lawmaker.
Kyle Mullins spent part of last week moving into this office in Dunmore. He replaced Kevin Haggerty as state representative for the 112th District.
Mullins starts on the state payroll Monday, even though he won't be sworn in for another month.
"I certainly feel more prepared coming into service on January 1, having a month lead time to make that transition," said Mullins.
Eric Epstein of the government watchdog group RockTheCapital.com calls the early start "an early Christmas present for freshman lawmakers," saying they "are getting paid to do work they don't perform."
He says he's not sure if any reformers in the state house will consider a bill to change the practice.
Randy Castellani was former Representative Haggerty's chief of staff. He spent his last week working out of the district's office in Eynon without a phone or computer. The state took its property as the district transitioned from Haggerty to Mullins.
But even though his state job ended Friday, Castellani supports early starts for new lawmakers and their staffs.
"People who are coming in who maybe have never worked in a rep's office dealing with constituent services. It gives them that opportunity to have a cushion if you will before the rep actually gets sworn in," Castellani said.
Castellani points out new staffs go on the state payroll when the old ones go off, so this transition doesn't cost taxpayers anything.
Representative Mullins says he'll consider changes when and if they come up on the house floor.
"My chief focus and primary concern is being open for business," said Mullins.
We checked around and found politicians elected to the U.S. Congress and lawmakers in most states are not paid to start their jobs until about the time they're sworn in.
Pennsylvania is different, and to some, controversial for its early start.