Approximately 3,000 people (guess) turned out to protest the budget impasse — and specifically, how it has effectively cut 100% of funding to 100% of state agencies and programs — yesterday afternoon on the steps of the Capitol building in Harrisburg. Supporters overruled the oppressive, muggy heat to make sure our message was heard. We need a budget passed, and we need it passed now. The time for committees, speeches, debate, and other political rhetoric is long over.
This is far from a party issue. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want a stopgap budget passed. Doing so would severely weaken their bargaining positions. Although both sides are accusing the other of bearing sole responsibility for the impasse, they’re really both dragging their feet equally. Both sides are feigning outrage over the notion that they might have to compromise on their ideal budget situations. Oh sure, they’re all perfectly willing to compromise — as long as it’s the other side doing the compromising.
One recurring theme I heard throughout today’s demonstration is that Ed Rendell is somehow solely responsible for this mess. It is very important to remember that this is not the case. While Mr. Rendell, being the highest-ranking official in our state government, does share responsibility for the impasse, fault does not rest squarely with him. Our legislature shares equal blame. This misconception needs to be cleared up so that people remember this outrage when the 2010 elections roll around.
Here are some photos from the event. You can find the complete set of my photos on my Picasaweb. Roxbury News has the most comprehensive, un-rushed video of the event (including the now-infamous “no budget, no peace” chant). WGAL has video of the event here. ABC27 did not put any video on their website, despite their cameras being present, but they do have a story here. The Patriot-News did not cover the event (or if they did, it’s nowhere to be found on PennLive). And not surprisingly, neither did WH “Rush Limbaugh” P. Here are some excellent photos from @phillipsnyder. If you have photos or videos from the event, or if you blogged about it, contact me and I’ll give you a shout here.