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.