In reflecting on the Pennsylvania Legislature yesterday I went from totally amazed to unbelievable to disheartening. Except for the HOUSE GOP everyone else compromised to tax the arts, theatre, non-profits and the like for what reason???
The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a apropos editorial today about the WAM money that was saved in the Pennsylvania budget deal reached by the three caucuses.
The budget deal in Harrisburg will cut funding for libraries, social services, and education, but legislators plan to keep plenty of taxpayers' money for their own special "needs." Budget negotiators have set aside at least $100 million for what's known as "walking-around money." WAMs are discretionary grants that individual lawmakers hand out to favored groups in their home districts with little justification and no accountability.
WAMs are also a great way for incumbents to help ensure their reelection. It's no coincidence that legislative leaders have made this honeypot available now - all 203 House seats and half of the 50 Senate seats are up for election next fall.
This legislature does not excel at much, but it is superb at looking out for itself. Legislators know there will be plenty of anti-incumbent sentiment at the polls next year.
There's anger over the budget impasse, criminal trials will begin this winter over alleged illegal bonuses to legislative staffers, and electric rates will soar when rate caps expire next year. It's just the kind of environment in which millions in WAMs could buy an endangered incumbent some goodwill back home.
It is time for a second revolution.