The Meeting

Words can not describe my disappointment at today’s events.

First, let me say that a stopgap budget, or any measure passed to resume our pay, is bittersweet.  True, we’ll technically be getting paychecks again.  And for a lot of state employees, that’s the difference between dinner and nothing.  So I won’t complain if our paychecks resume under such a proposal.  But at issue here is the fact that our legislature has not yet passed a formal budget, despite our constitution requiring its approval by June 30th — almost a full month ago.

Today’s meeting of the Committee to Procure Fiscal Application Commentary (or whatever it’s called) was embarrassing.  After the first 90 minutes were wasted fighting over who got to be in charge, I lost interest.  Are these REALLY the people we elected to serve our interests?

The impasse impacts every Pennsylvania taxpayer, not just state employees.  State agencies that desperately need money to operate — that have already had tax money collected from your hard-earned paycheck on their behalf — are going to go unfunded.  I’ve been saying this from the beginning — if you pay taxes in Pennsylvania, you need to be involved.  The legislature would like nothing more for everyone to continue blaming this on Governor Rendell, because he’s on his way out the door.  He has little to lose.  And as long as public outrage is focused on him, the other contributors to this disgrace — our legislators — can slip away blame-free when elections roll around.

I want you to imagine something for me.  If you’re as upset at this whole mess as I am, imagine telling your friend (or neighbor, or coworker, or family member) about the impasse.  Imagine explaining how our state has plenty of money socked away, but our legislators are too busy pushing political agendas to actually spend (or even save) any of it.  Imagine describing the liability for FLSA violations that they’ve already cost Commonwealth taxpayers.  And now imagine that person says “meh, it doesn’t really matter.  I’m sure they have a good reason.”

Anyone who doesn’t remember this when the 2010 and 2012 elections roll around is that person.

Call your legislators.  Call your governor.  Call them daily.  Let them know that this has gone on long enough.  Ask them if they plan on running for re-election.  Ask them why they went home last night without passing a budget.

Ask them why you voted for them.

39 thoughts on “The Meeting”

  1. I’ve been reading you for awhile and appreciate all the sound info you have passed on.
    I had called the feds on FLSA a couple of weeks ago and the woman I talked to was truly incensed at our gov. She was straightforward and helpful and a real pleasure to talk to. I hope they don’t roll over on this.
    Question….can you direct me to the part of the constitution that states the budget must be on time? Thanks for your help.

  2. Well, I watched them for as long as my attention span and patience could tolerate it…15 minutes…then let it play in the background for about 40 more. I’d like to say I was shocked…but I wasn’t. I found myself wanting a teleporter beam to beam me up to Harrisburg so I could say HERE…I’ll run your stupid meeting for you and keep you to task. It was like a little boys P!$$!ng contest. (Sorry folks). At that rate there might be a budget by Christmas. I found myself wanting to give them time outs on the naughty step or a nap or something that would allow them to reflect on their spoiled brat behavior. SIGH. I found myself thinking…and THIS is who is running our State? Many things are clearer now…

    BTW, I don’t buy Gov Ed’s rationalization that when the cameras are on people feel pressure to perform for the cameras. Nope. Methinks that is altogether commonplace behavior irrespective of cameras or no cameras. They’re a bunch of fellows who seem to have let their perception of the power they have achieved go to their heads. I’m guessing you could feel or smell or measure the amount of ego in the room at that meeting…it had to be a tangible object. SIGH.

    Now that I am done venting about process in my own childlike and egotistical way…here’s what troubles me.

    Gov Ed must come up with a solution to pay employees to stave off the consequences of the Feds. This is a given. He has no altruistic reasons for passing this slim budget because he feels for employees. He doesn’t. If he did this would have been his approach long ago. He is forced to. Plain and simple.

    He now proposes a bill that the House was adamantly opposed to but now he’s going to ask them to sign it and then veto the line items that he doesn’t want. He could have done that a month ago too. Again, now he has a need.

    He seems pretty sure he’s going to get the House to agree. Sooooo….did he have the houses agreement to stall on every budget in the House other than what he wanted? Yeeeeessssss I expect he probably did.

    Can he control the Senate Republicans thusly? Doubtful. And those same guys who cry to pay us are afraid that signing something like this will diminish their leverage in getting a signed budget. So leverage is something ALL of them, Republican and Democrat alike, have enjoyed having and now have lost.

    So I’m wondering WHY he thinks they (House and Senate) are going to negotiate any more effectively and solve those line items once he vetoes them and it throws the bill and the rest of the budget back into the House for proposals? Meanwhile the contest continues since we’ve seen these guys at their finest over the last 20 days or so.

    And who gets hurt? Everybody in PA. Agencies, employees, needy, old, businesses…it’s that whole trickle out economic phenomena. How long till they get this job done? What are the consequences to them of not having it done?

    I’m glad like Floor9 to have paychecks reinstated. It’s the right thing…it should never have happened in the first place. However, hand in hand with a paycheck, I want to have responsible, even minded, GROWN UP people governing me.

    From my view there’s plenty of blame to pass around. House, Senate, Governor…and myself…for only paying cursory attention in the past and never getting involved enough to ask hard questions ahead of time when it counts. I guess I have a new “hobby” at election time henceforth….

    Thanks Floor9…once again…for a very thought provoking blog post.

  3. “…imagine that person says “meh, it doesn’t really matter. I’m sure they have a good reason.”

    When we were protesting Tuesday, one lady walked by and said “get a job.” Someone responded, “We have jobs; we’re not being paid.” She then says, “That’s your problem.”

    Another man walks by and says “you need to take a 20% pay cut.” 80% of nothing is what?

    Also, the morning jockey on “The Rose” said Monday that state workers need to get part time jobs.

    People truly do not know/understand. =(

  4. My cousin/carpooler DOES have a part time job. For the first 9 years of my civil service, I was also in the National Guard. I work hard for the state, and I know for a fact that I have saved them several hundred thousand dollars with the work I have done. I also know I have attended seminars by IBM, done the due diligence, and have made recommendations to the front office, which have been ignored, that ended up costing MILLIONS. This is no word of a lie.

    I managed a web application for a state agency that they contracted out to create (I could have done a better job in-house), that cost 1.4 million dollars. It was crap, and it is being re-written by IBM.

    The waste is disgusting. They need to overhaul the system because it’s broken.

    We, as a society, need to band together and let them know that they won’t get away with it. We need to stand up and be heard. We need to stop being so spineless, and not fear what repercussions will happen when we stand up and do the right thing.

    The union helps nobody as well. There was a guy that sat behind me at my old position. He was constantly sleeping, and couldn’t be given any work because when given a task he dragged about 15 people into it, bothering them non stop because he was inept. We couldn’t fire him because he was in the union and his supervisor allowed him to pass his probationary period.

    The system is antiquated, needs to be overhauled. We need to be promoted/paid based on our merit. Things would run smother, we could attract some brighter and better employees, keeping the good ones, and booting the bad ones.

  5. More promises he doesn’t intend to keep, he is playing to the media, more worried about cell phones than doing something. All he is doing is frustrating the process.

    Maybe sales for his statues for our mantels are down or something…

    I think a problem will arise that keeps us in limbo longer than the next two weeks. I just doubt any of their words at this point.

    I will believe it when I get an alert a deposit has been made to my account. I hope the Feds do get him or the media he loves does…

  6. excerpt from pennlive “Rendell’s plan also would mean that layoffs — about 300 initially — would start in August, the governor said. ”

    Could we start by laying off the Gov, all of his chronies, and then the legislators. Lord knows we can still do our jobs without them. All we need is someone in there to get us paid.

  7. Sandman,

    I agree with most of what you said. I’ve tried to make suggestions(including a suggestion box) too and became a target as a result. “That’s the way it’s always been” is what I’m repeatedly told. Also been told to lower my expectations by my sup.

    As far as getting rid of “dead weight.” It is not impossible to fire union-employees. BUT the sup must document, counsel, etc. Basically, there’s a procedure. And mgmt seems to disregard it. But keep in mind that this procedure is in place so they cannot fire someone w/out JUST CAUSE.

  8. True, I am glad it is difficult to fire someone without just cause, but they are soon going to lay people off, it wouldn’t be necessary if we could just “trim the fat”. I say we start with FAT EDDIE, and all his cronies (or is it chronies)? Became a dumb speller with the invent of Word (lol).

  9. I too have heard comments like If you don’t like it quit..where are we supposed to find other jobs? As everyone well knows the jobs aren’t out there. But will we be surprised when business leave the state in record numbers? or our college grads? Why on this green earth would anyone want to start a career or business with our corrupt state government?

  10. THAT’S THE WAY IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DONE

    Start with a large cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

    After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

    Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

    Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous
    newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm!

    Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then a fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

    After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

    Why not? Because as far as they know THAT’S THE WAY IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DONE AROUND HERE! And that, my friends,…………..is how company policy begins!!

    (And this is especially true of ANY government agency!)

  11. I too want to thank floor9. I come here & find out a lot that I didn’t see in the news.

    Thank you.

  12. Maybe they could have a beer summit on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion, kick things around over a few cold brews, or maybe a cheese steak sandwich….

    oh yeah, let the good times roll in PA…

  13. Maby we should kick the 6 majority leaders out and bring in Moe Larry and Curly the Three Stooges in there. At least they could pass a budget quickley

  14. Today was my first totally payless payday. Tried watching the Bozo’s on PCN and ended up just wanting to bang some heads together. I’m thinking it’s going to take a state wide walk out to see any action.

  15. Do be sure to call DOL today Chief! The PA Slim Budget isn’t approved, signed and in stone yet. We’ll be calling very, very soon.

  16. Today marks my SECOND payless payday. Perhaps a part time job is going to be in my very near future.

  17. Made the call to DOL and ensured all my co-workers did as well. DOL in Pittsburgh advised one of my co-workers that we all do not need to call. I advised we keep calling with every missed payday. I still don’t think we’ll see much action until the average Pennsylvanian starts sharing our pain. . .

  18. I just found something interesting – my pay statement in ESS for last week lists Budget Impasse LWOP for the amount of $1,296. Next week’s pay statement (for the 08/07 pay date) shows normal pay plus the different of $1,296 from last week for a grand total of $2,916.00 gross.

    There are more taxes deducted than usual so I’m assuming that means that it’s deducing for the total amount of both this coming week’s pay plus the difference of last week’s pay which brings it down to $1,799.45. It even lists under the direct deposit section the amounts distributed among 3 accounts the way I had it set up.

    Does this mean I should assume to be paid that amount of money on 08/07? I thought maybe this coming week’s statement would have the whole amount listed under the Budget Impasse LWOP category but it doesn’t list that anywhere on the PDF…. Has anyone else noticed this?

  19. No, you are not getting paid next week unless the budget is passed. Here is a memo from the OA Website.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
    July 23, 2009

    Budget Impasse Pay Statements July 31 and after
    The appearance of statements in ESS is not an indication that you have been paid
    Employee Self Service ( ESS ) will display pay statements for July 31 and after even if a budget has not been signed and pay is not being disbursed. The appearance of pay statements in ESS is not an indication that payment has been made.

    To ensure the quickest possible payment after a budget is signed, the commonwealth is continuing to prepare payroll even though payments will not be made until after a budget is signed. Thus, pay statements will be generated and will show the date that you would have been paid along with accurate details of payments that will eventually be made.

  20. The system is antiquated, needs to be overhauled. We need to be promoted/paid based on our merit. Things would run smother, we could attract some brighter and better employees, keeping the good ones, and booting the bad ones.

    Sandman | Jul 30, 2009 |

    That’s it brother, in a nutshell. We need about 77,000 of you! On a different note, I have a pretty strong work ethic. But, at this point of nonsense (and desperation), I want to make a statement. All the nicey nice and dedicated work ethic (going to work with no pay while calling, emailing reps and such)isn’t paying my bills and feeding my family. I’m inclined to agree with Chief: State wide walk out. You are right again Chief when you say EVERY citizen of PA needs to feel our pain. Astounding to me is the reaction from the civilian public. They actually think WE are wrong for wanting paid. What the H##l is going on here???? Has everyone gone crazy???Perhaps after a state wide walk out (no services to YOU today), they’d come to their senses and think differently and the politicans would get off their asses, stop their childish pissing matches and do their d##m jobs. You know, like WE’RE expected to do. This same thing happened about 20 years ago. It took me years to recover (credit ratings, etc). This is twice for me in one career. I’ve had enough of corrupt, inept politicans controlling my livelyhood. If I sound angry, on the fringe and bitter, well…….I AM. This is B.S. and I am fed up with it.
    Thanks for allowing me to vent.

  21. Has anyone else heard that you can apply for medical benefits through the welfare dept so your co-pays will be covered? I had a lady tell me this yesterday. She said she had just come from the local office. I was wondering if it were true or if she misunderstood what they had explained to her.

  22. LT’s Wife,
    Medical assistance is complicated with many variables involved. Households with zero income don’t necessarily qualify for medical assistance. If you have children in the household you MAY qualify…if you are between the ages of 59 and 64 you MAY qualify….if you have a need for health sustaining medications and have a doctor verify on a DPW form you MAY qualify. There are many other ways factors involved (one of the reasons DPW had software developed to determine medical eligibility). It would be best if you contacted your local office to inquire with your specific situation.

  23. the “Expdited” food stamps application (5 days) for state employees isn’t true. You are “eligiable”, but so is everyone else. You basically have to have 0 liquid assets. That means you have NO money in the bank. SOOO, therefore, it takes 30 days to process.

  24. You know, I just had a thought. . .

    If Wal-Mart was doing this to it’s employees, there would be national media coverage and hearings before Congress. And the media would not let up until they had a “Perp Walk”.

  25. Just wanted to let you know that the challenge the corruption petition is ot the same as impeach eddie. This is to pass legislation to overhaul our Pa government and set term limits, as well as cutting the size of the Harrisburg crowd. for those of you that have to work there I’m sure you could deal with smaller crowds lol

  26. According to thepittsburghchannel.com the house has approved a budget so employee’s can be paid. We know it will still be several days before checks will be released if this report is correct.

  27. Ok so now they passed the stop gap budget..we still need to keep the pressure on until the actaul budget is passed. THEN we need to star pushing for next year. Since they get the first draft budget sent to them in February we need to flood their phones & e-mails starting in Feb to insure this isn’t going to happen again next summer

  28. I’ve read reports that next year, if not managed now, will reasonably be expected to be even more contentious than this year.

    In a letter to editor a Rep mentions legislation he introduced to provide penalties. I’ve commented there (mine would be listed as itsewyou my quilting/sewing nom de plume), inquiring as to the bill number so I can get my rep thinking about backing it.
    Here’s where you can find it…you might want to inquire as well. http://tinyurl.com/lcn3b7

  29. We need a major overhaul of the state government. This budget impasse and failure to pay state employees is just a symptom of much bigger problems.

    We should start by cutting the number of legislators in half, make this a less lucrative position by cutting the pay, perks, pension, health care, per diem pay, etc. for state legislators. This should be a job done by people who do it out of a sense of duty, not career politicians on major power trips and personal agendas.

    I think we could easily cut at least 5% of state employees. Let’s face it, most of know people employed by the state and we really don’t know what they do, but put their time in. They were hired because they knew the right people or were owed a favor.

  30. Charlene, I am amazed at the number of non state workers who believe all state workers make $30/hr. This is the second time around for me, as well, and I am sick of these arrogant, entitled, career politicians who are on power trips with their own personal agendas, running this state. They are obviously incompetent and I sure hope every single one of them gets voted OUT.

  31. Well Kate. I just blogged something that John Micek of Capitol ideas broke.

    We will wait for paychecks till next week.

    The Democratic House had the Comptrollers Office cut their checks yesterday. Evidently they were able to be paid all along so since they did what they needed to do they went ahead and paid themselves. Forget all the work that remains to be done…the compromises yet that must be reached!

    My motto/bumper sticker?
    Payless Payday Reckoning 11/2/10

  32. Payless Payday Reckoning 11/2/10

    Robin, you are the woman! How do we get those printed up? After we get paid of course…..
    I think it’s a great idea to consider.

  33. LT’s Wife: See the rule on terms for Representatives:

    HOW LONG ARE THEIR TERMS?

    Senators are elected for a term of four years and Representatives for a term of two years. All 203 members of the House and half of the Senate (25 members) are elected every two years (see Article II, Section 3).

  34. Robin, you find a place to print those bumper stickers then let us know where to buy them, my bet we will no shortage in sales for them, as long as it is after next week or whenever we actually get our money…Great idea…

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