Sunday, March 6, 2016

I'm baaaack . . .

*I wrote this nearly three months ago. May as well post it. I'm still bent out of shape over these developments.

And why not get this blog re-invigorated with a blatantly political post!

The only good news to come from the Harrisburg budget stalemate (or impasse) is that now newspapers are using words like that to describe the inability of the legislature to pass a budget. About a week ago, I was instead reading about the budget crisis. Crisis? What crisis? The lights are still on. Police are still patrolling. State offices are still open. And surprisingly, this is all done without a budget. Please pardon me, I'm still trying to figure out how that works.

Has Pennsylvania gone the way of the federal government, with manufactured "crises" seeming to hold up the business of government while government continues to function? There seems to be something very unserious about the manner in which our Harrisburg politicians are going about their job.

I am, though, disturbed at this stalemate in which politicians cannot seem to compromise and commit on a spending plan that intentionally lays out our priorities for using the resources of this state. The sticking point, apparently is funding schools. The governor wants to send more money to schools. Legislators might, too. But only after they exact their pound of flesh from the bogeyman du jour, public-sector unions (full disclosure: I'm a member of such a union) by reducing pension benefits. Oh, I forgot, that's another crisis. Or maybe not. I've lost track of crises.

I don't see a crisis when it comes to schools and pensions, but instead a slow-motion failure in process. There is great reluctance to fund schools. Sure, the state will likely increase funding, but only with caveats about reducing pensions and making it harder for local school boards to raise taxes to pay for programs. In other words, it's not about putting more money to work for schools, instead to shift the burden from local to state sourcing. But in so doing, the state wants to limit what it'll be contributing by limiting pensions. Oh, and don't you dare think about taxing natural gas. And, from a national standpoint: keep our hands off of Medicare and Social Security.

And all the while, what schools are expected to do continues to increase.

Meanwhile, we have an Attorney General whose law license has been suspended, who selectively releases damning evidence to defame political foes, and who applies double standards to benefit her family while persecuting her opponents. The Assembly can't decide whether or not to remove her from office.

Whew . . . glad to get that off my chest. Now, let's get to writing on more fun stuff.

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