Rant Collage Part 1


I have decided to stray from my normal format and do an informal 3 part series about a few issues on both the state and national stage that deserve attention. I would like to start by discussing the debacle that has become the PA state budget. Then I would like to shift gears to the attempt at nationalization of our health care system. I will then end the series with a kudos in regards to the credit markets.

As most of you know that read my blog on a regular basis, Pennsylvania is facing a budget crisis. After a series of legislative ping pong with several various budget bills, we are left with nothing but a political nightmare with everyone trying to gain a political victory and the victims are the citizens of Pennsylvania. This “process”, there I used that word, will conclude where it should have started with a committee engaging in negotiations. There are several factors prohibiting this years budget from being passed.

The first and most apparent reason is the downturn in our national economy. This has caused state revenue collections to plummet, thus creating a larger than expected budgetary deficit.

Secondly, we have one of the largest legislatures in the country. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives have 203 members. It doesn’t take a college graduate to see the difficulty in getting a majority agreement with a legislative body that size. We have opposing parties controlling each house. The House of Representatives is Democratically controlled while the Senate is Republican controlled. Again, getting agreement on what color the sky is can be difficult with this setup.

Finally, partisan politics is getting in the way of making sound decisions that will benefit all Pennsylvanians. The House Democratic leadership announced earlier this week that they would be determining a spend number for the budget and then would enter into negotiations with leaders of the Senate and with personnel from the Governor’s office. At the press conference, they were hopeful of getting a handshake deal prior to the start of the Conference Committee early next week. So what happened? Senator Jake Corman, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says that he would be willing to negotiate but not until the House Democrats take the proposed Personal Income Tax hike off of the table. This is simply being uncooperative.

Pennsylvania state workers are approaching the 24th day without a budget in place. Tomorrow the last portion of state workers will receive 20% of their normal pay check. Each subsequent pay will come and go without paycheck until a budget is passed. How can anyone think that it is acceptable to say they are willing to negotiate but only if certain pre-conditions are met? This is completely absurd. There are families struggling to pay bills and even buy groceries. Our state workers are being forced to go to local food banks for food. Who would have ever thought that this day would come? There are services that I feel are very important to the viability of our state. One is education.

It is very important that we properly fund education to ensure that the children of our commonwealth are receiving the best education possible. To drastically cut funding in that area doesn’t make sense. So having said that, if funding education requires new revenue that should be explored. To say that you are not willing to sit down until broad based tax increases are taken off the table is a vote against the future of our state, in my view. It would seem to me that regardless of your opinions, one should sit down and start discussing what areas are important to be funded and then use that information to develop a spend number and begin to talk about how that spending will be funded. It’s as if the cart is being put before the horse in these talks. It is my hope that the public with begin to put pressure on the legislature leaders to sit down and begin negotiations in an open, transparent way to get this budget passed and our state workers paid.


One Response

  1. Agreed Lee,
    thanks for the rant/update!!!

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