Monday, October 12, 2009

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Mortally Wounded In Budget Process

If you were a Pennsylvania Legislator things weren't looking too good for you this weekend. Here is a wrap up of the "accolades" legislators received on their recent budget performance.

The budget's done, but state's dysfunction persists
Sunday, October 11, 2009

The budget nightmare is over. So how about a little entertainment, Pennsylvania?

A little word-eating?

How about a nice round of shoe-dropping?

These things are possible, according to Attorney General Tom Corbett, who has been promising more indictments of state lawmakers and General Assembly staffers.

What a fitting follow-up for a state gone wild should that shoe-dropping come now.

Lawmakers and staffers could be safely removed from their posts, and public attention is still aimed toward our "leaders," so there's no time like the present.

It's kind of like late-night TV. You want to be the show that follows Leno.

Not that House Democratic leaders Dwight Evans, Todd Eachus or Keith McCall are exactly in that same comedic category, but the stage is suddenly empty.

Analysis: State budget delay cloaks politicians in shame
Sunday, October 11, 2009

Asked about the 101-day delay, Rendell said, "The process is screwed up, and the system is broken."

All the while, most lawmakers racked up per diems at $158 per day for food and lodging. The tab exceeded $532,000 for July and August, records show.

There's no penalty for legislators or the governor if they don't meet the June 30th deadline when a budget is required by law.

The budget has been late seven years straight since Rendell took office in 2003.

In early September, Rendell identified "Ideology, partisanship and laziness," as reasons for the late budget this year.

Some legislators said the 2010 budget is in line with what the public wanted -- no broad-based tax increase. But Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, said the budget "taxes too much, spends too much, and puts Pennsylvania on an unsustainable path to the future."

Broken budget trust
Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long-term relations between the House and Senate were severely damaged by the budget battle, casting a cloud over future action on efforts to cap electric rates, next year's budget and trying to stem the impact of spiking pension costs in two years.

In the interest of getting a budget done, new House Democrat negotiators, Speaker Keith McCall of Carbon County and Majority Leader Todd Eachus of Luzerne County, inexplicably signed off on the deal.

Both taxes, for the most part, hit Democrat constituencies.

McCall and Eachus faced a full-scale revolt in their caucus over those measures as well as a plan to lease state forest land for natural gas drilling.

So the House Democrats broke the deal and sent the Senate a tax bill that eliminated the arts tax and small-games tax. The House Ds put in poison pills for the Senate, taxing smokeless tobacco and cigars and taxing natural gas extraction. Those two were ignored in the final agreement.

Senate Republican leaders and Senate Democrat leaders, and Rendell, were furious.

They had hung themselves out there on controversial taxes. In the end, Senate GOP leaders Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, and Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, felt far more comfortable dealing with Senate Dems and Rendell than the House Dems.

In fact, they didn't want to deal with them at all. Senate Democrat leaders felt the same.

Eachus said they had no choice based on their caucus's reaction. That's true. But what galled the other leaders is that Eachus and McCall didn't come back to them and say, "This won't work. Help us out."

House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, knows how to do a deal, one leader told me. These guys don't.

The Pennsylvania legislature owes a duty to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be more responsible and responsive to the wished of its constituents. Instead it seems it is hell bent on perpertuating a political machine for the purposes of duking it out at election time. Until those in the top offices of the House and the Senate turn the tide and forge a new direction they neither earned the title of "leadership" nor deserve it.

Your size is too big; your staff is too big. It is time to do what businesses and families do when the money they used to earn is not there, consolidate, do without.

Remember the old saying, the pigs get butchered but the hogs get slaughtered. Your pay package is at that point.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This wouldn't have happened under DeWeese. He knew how to deal - and, unlike Eachus, is a man of his word, a critical component of deal-making.