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.

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The Legislature Is Beginning To Notice

This past Thursday, Senator Gordner (R-Columbia) took to the floor and pointed out — finally — that requiring state employees to work without pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  He held up a sign with the phone number for the US Department of Labor and encouraged all state employees to file a complaint.  Yesterday, Lt. Governor Scarnati told Governor Rendell in no uncertain terms to stop using state employees — and by proxy, Pennsylvania taxpayers — as pawns in this political game.  While this is ultimately not a sign of anything in particular, it does suggest that perhaps our elected officials are beginning to realize the problem they just created.  As if in slow motion, the thought of bearing responsibility for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages — to say nothing of the instant loss of spending power for 70,000 state employees — is causing them to reel around in terror and think “Oh god, what have we done?”

Not because they care, mind you.  If they did, this would’ve been fixed months ago.  It’s because the public is getting through to them.  It’s because they are beginning to realize that this latest fiasco will harm their chances for re-election.

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Way To Go Joe!

In case you missed the story yesterday, Lt. Governor Joe Scarnati has told Governor Rendell “enough already”:

“It is clear that the governor does not recognize that Pennsylvania families live paycheck to paycheck or he would follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and refrain from using payless paydays as a budgetary scare tactic,” Scarnati said.

Scarnati disagrees with the administration’s interpretation that the state constitution trumps federal law. He claims it is an interpretation that Rendell is using to try to force Senate Republicans to give in to his demand for a tax increase to support a higher level of state spending.

Add our own Lt. Governor to the slowly-growing list of politicians taking our side.  Thanks, Joe — but how did it get this far to begin with?

Something Happens

One of the drawbacks of working during the day is that I don’t get to update this blog continually.  As a result, most of my posts are made several days in advance and queued to publish at specified dates and times.  If a budget actually gets passed during my workday, I plan to take an early lunch and update with the details ASAP, but aside from that, instant updates are pretty much not an option.  So once in a while, an update — other than a passed budget — may manage to sneak past my paper-scanning.

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A State Employee Tries To Stand

The ongoing Pennsylvania budget impasse has obviously been a huge topic lately. Saturday afternoon I logged into my control panel and found the below comment waiting for approval.  I contacted the author of the comment and obtained permission to publish it as a guest post.

It seems as if the media coverage of the impasse is painting a rosy picture of zero-interest loans and creditors willing to show lenience.  The reality is that plenty of people like myself with good credit (around 700 FICO across two of the three bureaus) are being turned down for those loans.  And utility companies and lenders just don’t care.

What follows below is the story of one state employee who did her best to take control of her situation, but was shot down at every turn.  It is not my story, and the only editing done was to remove personally-identifying information and to clearly mark some sections.  My comments will be [bracketed in bold & italics].

Continue reading A State Employee Tries To Stand