Payday is Not The End

As you’ve probably already heard by now, those of us on the 8/7 pay cycle received our full pay (along with back pay) this past Friday.  With a few exceptions, everybody on the alternate cycle will be paid this coming Friday.  This is a bittersweet victory for us state employees who were asking for nothing more than our paycheck.  While most of us have been released from being pawns to our governor’s and legislature’s political games, the budget has still not been passed.

And there’s still the issue of inappropriate behavior by our elected officials — both Republican and Democratic.

You see, we still don’t have a budget.  Despite being several months overdue, neither the Senate nor the House nor the Governor has been able to put forth anything workable.  It’s the same old story that we’re all getting sick of hearing:  Both sides are banging their fists on the table and furiously demanding “compromise”, while feigning outrage at the very notion that they themselves will have to give up some of their ideals.

For example, take Stephen Miskin.  He’s the spokesman for the House Republicans.  And judging by his Twitter account, the House Republicans are outraged that state employees have been paid.  His timeline contains a perpetual stream of complaints over the bridge budget.  One of my favorites really drives home their “don’t blame the Senate” mentality:

One person, and one person alone cut PA Ag funding this year, Ed Rendell, Gov. of PA. Whiners trying to blame Senate, WRONG!

There isn’t a single legislator who is exempt from blame.  Democrats and Republicans, Senators and Representatives, all sit squarely at the center of their failure.  For either side to attempt to blame the other — let alone have the official spokesman for the Republican party in Pennsylvania go on a tirade blaming the Democrats for everything — really shows just how much of a game this is to our elected officials.

It’s not a budget impasse to them; it’s a mud-slinging contest.

While we were dipping into carefully-crafted savings (if we were lucky) or struggling to find ways to feed our children and pay late fees + interest on our unpaid  utility bills, our legislators were — and are — having a blast.  Apparently, this is “fun” to them.

There’s just as much guilt on the Democratic side as there is on the Republican side.  But for any legislator to issue any statement other than “We have failed you, and we are sorry” followed immediately by a detailed explanation of what they plan to do differently…  That just reeks of incompetence.

While we’re suffering, they’re making political hay.

What happened in our legislature is a twisted take on NIMBY.  Everybody furiously demands compromise, but is unwilling to compromise on their own.  And while they’re busy giving speeches and stunting in committee meetings, we go unfed.  Our bills go unpaid.  The contractors who provide services for government agencies & facilities go unpaid.  Schools are going without state subsidies. And our legislators have already begun staging themselves for re-election.

But hey, the Pennsylvania Republicans say we only have the Democrats to blame.

Remember this when elections roll around.

Finally, I haven’t been able to update for the past week or so due to a death in the family.  I’m back now.  Let’s keep the pressure on.  We only got paid because our legislators got sick of dealing with our phone calls — if the pressure continues, maybe they’ll get around to, oh I don’t know, actually passing the budget.

15 thoughts on “Payday is Not The End”

  1. I am sorry for your loss.

    If they had truly cared about the employee’s, they would have had a stop gap funding in place on July 1st.

    To add insult to injury, you have the house democrats paying themselves before the state employee’s.

    Both sides like to think they are innocent, righteous. Both have flaws. I think they have all lost contact with the people in their area’s and are not doing what is best for the state but for themselves.

  2. I had to laugh at your choice of words:

    “Their ideals.”
    As if their ideals matter. They are not there for their ideals, they are there to represent US, the citizens of this commonwealth. We all have our flaws but unlike these fine upstanding individuals, we live in the real world, while they are merely playing dress-up.

    I tire of the “rules do not apply to us attitude” that our elected officials have. They are no better than us. Scratch that, in most cases, at least to me, they are worse than us. Though, we can all play the blame game, since we are the ones who put them there.

    Sorry for ranting and I am sorry for your families loss. Take luck.

    ~BP

  3. @LT’s Wife, you are absolutely correct. Our legislature doesn’t care about what we, the taxpayers, go through. This is a political arm-wrestling match — nothing more.

    @BPSmith, I agree completely: They are there to represent our wishes. What’s happening is that one faction is saying “Well, our constituents sent us here to do this” and another is saying “OUR constituents want us to do THIS”, and both of them are insistent that theirs is the only belief that “really” matters.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around. Nobody — Democrat, Republican, Representative, Senator, or Governor — is without blame. To hear one side point fingers at the other WHILE WE STILL DO NOT HAVE A BUDGET is what sickens me even further.

    As a state employee I’m limited in what political activity I can engage in. But I’m already 99% sure who I’m voting for when the 2010 and 2012 elections roll around.

  4. But floor9, on the one hand you criticize legislators for not representing “our wishes,” and then acknowledge that legislators represent differing constituencies with differing “wishes.” Hence the exercise in herding cats that the annual budget has become…

    This is an historic “arm wrestling match” we’re witnessing. Those of us who believe government has become too far-reaching, has been consuming too many resources, has been re-distributing enough wealth, are standing with those legislators who do not agree that the budget problems we’re facing are simply because we don’t generate enough revenue. We don’t believe we need to increase the PIT (even though it’s only “a couple lattes a week”) or to accept any other broad-based tax increase. We believe cuts are necessary, programs need to be reduced in scope – so that the state government can live within its means.

    The Governor – who definitely knows how to play hard ball – will never face the voters again; his political allies in the legislature won’t have to face them for 18 months – an eternity in politics. So he and they are dug in. And if the conservative-leaning faction can’t impede the growth of government even in these challenging economic times, when will it ever be appropriate? So I think they are resolute as well…

    As an aside, incredibly (at least in my mind), almost unnoticed was last week’s action to extend unemployment benefits. My personal vote would have been to contract them in these times.

    The budget is important in Harrisburg and to state employees because it is our livelihood. But there are hundreds of thousands (dare I say even millions?) of Pennsylvania taxpayers whose only annual interaction with the state is to file (and pay) their taxes and renew their vehicle registration – and many of them feel enough of their hard-earned money is going to the state coffers as is. (And yes, I know they send their kids to a “government” school, but they also pay hefty and specific property taxes to facilitate that. My guess is many of them would be happy to forego future state and federal funding for their school district if the unfunded state and federal mandates went away as well)…

    I’ve encouraged my representatives to hold the line on taxes – and I did it while I was missing paychecks. I’m happy to have cash flow back, and I think the bridge budget weakened the Governor’s leverage somewhat by removing the pressure from state employees. But I’ve been wrong about many things political in the past…

  5. DGS peon made a good point. I think what’s happening is that the legislators are hiding behind “the wishes of our constituents” in order to do some political cat-herding (this will be my new phrase for the budget mess, incidentally). I don’t think a single voter elected a single legislator in the hopes that he or she would one day fail to pass a budget.

    The great failure, then, is that the legislators (and the governor) have lost sight of their core job functions. They’re fantasizing about being “that one senator / representative” who saved the day and led their party to victory. In reality, all they’ve done is screw over every Pennsylvania taxpayer.

  6. Will we need to claim the food stamps as income at the end of the year and even though the assistance office knew hubby is a state employee. do we need to contact them and tell them to shut off the food stamps? Thanks!

  7. I posted a response for you LT’s Wife…as did a DPW worker…

    No, you do not need to claim it as income.
    See the comment from DPW worker for the answer to the turn it off…I think it depends on how your office tracks it. If the office noted you are state employees, as soon a sthe budget for paying you got signed they may have updated your file with income. However, you are supposed to report income to them monthly for determination of benefits…so when you report income it would shut them off in any case. You have till Sept 10 to report income…which if you wait till then you would get FS in September… which is why I expect they are probably updating files as soon as the “budget” was signed. If it were me, I would call right away bc I would not feel good about receiving them in September again.

  8. I agree that making a budget is a difficult job. Thjankless in that you can never please all the people all of the time BUT, thankless or not that is waht they are paid for and I think the taxpayers have the right to expect a budget on time..and to expect said lawmakers to actually work on it more than 2-3 hours a day 3 days a week. Robin, I know you were talking bumper stickers to remind everyone (short memories) check out BlowOutCongree.com.. thay have great window decals and t shirts to help

  9. Let’s talk about that lump sum payment. The tax amount nearly equals or exceeds the net pay for a two week period.

  10. We were certainly hit hard with taxes with the lump sum payment. It didn’t help in catching things up.

  11. Special Consumer Lending Program for Pennsylvania State Employees *

    ——————————————————————————–

    • Special lending programs and loan offer for PA state employees affected by current budget impasse/suspended wages.

    The following offer is for
    Pennsylvania state employees only.

    In an effort to assist Pennsylvania state employees affected by the current budget impasse with suspended wages, PNC Bank along with National City Bank is offering several special Consumer Lending programs until the impasse is resolved.

    Start Date: Immediately
    End Date: Until the impasse is resolved

    Consumer Lending Programs – Loan Extension Details
    PA state employees that have a first mortgage serviced by PNC Bank will be offered a forbearance on their mortgage which will revert back to regular payments due and payable once the forbearance is lifted at no cost to the borrower. PNC Mortgage customers should call 1-888-396-3999 and have proof of employment (recent pay stub). In addition, late fees and credit reporting will be suppressed during this timeframe.

    PA state employees that have a first mortgage with National City Mortgage will be offered a forbearance on their Mortgage which will revert back to regular payments due and payable once the forbearance is lifted at no cost to the borrower. National City Mortgage customers should call 1-800-822-5626 and have proof of employment (recent pay stub). Customer accounts will receive a two month forbearance. In addition, late fees and credit reporting will be suppressed during this timeframe.

    PA state employees that have a Consumer Loan or Line (Home Equity, Auto, Unsecured, and National City Credit Card) will be offered at no cost a month extension on their payment assuming they are current on their account. (See contact information below.)
    Consumer Loan Offer
    PA State employees that require additional short-term access to financing will be offered a Personal Unsecured loan of $1,000 – $2,500 for a 12-month term at a rate of 3.99%.

    Note: The 3.99% offer is available only for PA State employees that are existing PNC / NCB customers or new customers that are PA State employees that open a checking relationship. A direct debit from a PNC/NCB checking account is also required to receive this offer.

    Loan Type
    Phone Number

    Consumer Loans (Home Equity, Auto and Unsecured) serviced by National City (Brecksville, OH)
    1-866-622-2657

    Consumer Loans (Home Equity, Auto and Unsecured) serviced by PNC (Pittsburgh, PA)
    1-800-762-2265

    National City Credit Card customers
    1-800-544-3623

    PNC Mortgage Loans
    1-888-396-3999

    National City Mortgage Loans
    1-800-822-5626

  12. Mostly paid, totally forgotten.

    With most of the commonwealth workers being paid (there are still about 2000 of our colleagues doing without) does anyone know what the state of Fed. L & I case? How do we find out the status? How doe we know it was not dropped?

  13. There would be no reason for them to pursue it as long as they have paid us. Whether or not to pursue damages is up to the Secretary. In paying the employees Gov Ed would have prevented injunctive relief. If the 2000 unpaid employees are still complaining they might see some Federal Action. You better believe if we were in that position our household would be screaming loud and clear.

    I’m more interested to know the status of the Union’s grievances where they asked for interest….

  14. Hmmm. Yes, that what sort of my interest. I agree in terms of practicality there will much less if any interest in pursing our claims. But in terms of legality and compliance the fact that most of us were paid should not make a difference to the violation, it is a point of law. Did it occur (Yes) and will a remedy be sought (damages accessed/interest directed to be paid) should be the point of fact that should be pursue, but what will be the Secretary’s motivation…I fear not much. Shame!!!!

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