PA Budget Impasse 2010: Hi

Well.

Here we are again.

It’s 2010.  For the eighth year in a row, the Pennsylvania state budget is in trouble.  After last year’s major nightmare, you’d think we’d be done with this nonsense.

You’d think that after the public outpouring of outrage, our elected officials would go out of their way to pass a budget on time this year.

You’d think that after the legal decision affirming the illegality of refusing to pay your employees (to say nothing of the untold mountains of taxpayer dollars wasted on the matter), our elected officials would stop with their partisan political grandstanding and finger-pointing.

You’d think that even if every shred of decency, common sense, and respect for their taxpayers was found conspicuously absent, our legislature wouldn’t dare yank Pennsylvanians around — again — in an election year.

But we’re not, they didn’t, they never will, and they are.

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Abandoned Turnpike Tour: 2010

Ever since I discovered the abandoned turnpike three years ago (has it been that long?  Really?), I’ve received a steady stream of inquiries about going there.  If enough people are interested, I’d like to organize a group trip within the next few weeks.  This will be a fairly simple day hike on what is more or less paved road.  You don’t need any hiking or backwoods experience, but a pair of good, comfortable sneakers will be a lifesaver (PROTIP from personal experience:  do not wear hiking boots).

Just what is the abandoned turnpike, you ask?  I’ve blogged about it many, many, many times before, but here’s the TL/DR:

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Rendell and the Furloughs

Sounds like a really, really, really bad college band, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I don’t want to brag, but I told you so.  According to a story on WHTM:

The state Supreme Court said Monday it agreed with state workers’ unions and ruled against the position that Gov. Ed Rendell had taken leading up to the July 2008 budget deal. The unions had argued that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act trumped a section of the state constitution that requires an appropriation in order for money to be paid out of the state treasury.

This is a huge victory for us bottom-of-the-ladder state workers.  But it’s a hollow victory, because although it reaffirms what we’ve known all along, the state still chose to knowingly break the law.

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US Dept of Labor: Round One

Last weekend a number of you commented, emailed, and tweeted to let me know that the US Department of Labor did not want to hear your “short paycheck” claims.  Apparently, the DOL divides your gross pay by your hours worked, and if the resulting rate is above minimum wage, they won’t take the claim.  I disagree with that stance, but I’ll deal with that when the impasse is over.

Today is different.  No matter how you do the math, almost every state employee will fall below “effective minimum wage” on this paycheck.  I certainly will.  If you’re one of the many involuntary volunteers, contact your local office for the US Department of Labor and file a claim.  No lawyer or union can do this for you; you MUST file the claim yourself.  Only the federal government has the authority to intervene.

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Committee Monday

Well, this is wonderful.

After failing to make any meaningful progress, our legislature has decided to form a committee on Monday.  You read that correctly; while you and I are making plans to make our car and mortgage payments, put food on the table, and keep the lights on, our legislature is forming a committee.

Forming a committee.

Continue reading Committee Monday