News Round-Up: PA Legislature Must Step-Up on the Budget or #FindANewJob

Governor Tom Wolf gave his second budget address last week, presenting Republicans with a simple choice: help pass a reasonable budget or #FindANewJob. Continued political obstruction means a growing deficit, further credit downgrades and more cuts to schools and vital human services.

Read a few of the editorials, op-eds, and letters from across the Commonwealth over the past week calling on Republicans in the legislature to step-up and end this crisis:

Philadelphia Daily News: Gov. Wolf takes a bold stand in his budget address (February 10, 2016): “…These Republicans, deep into denial about the reality of the situation, instead offered a budget that gave Wolf nothing and papered over the fact the budget did not balance with the usual gimmicks and tricks employed during the Corbett years. They didn’t fool anyone: the Wall Street rating agencies lowed Pennsylvania’s bond rating once again…Wolf’s speech was an impassioned plea for the insanity to end in Harrisburg. Our last best hope is that responsible Republicans – those still in touch with reality – will rise to the governor’s challenge and work toward a compromise.”

Sunbury Daily Item: Editorial: Stay in Capitol and get job done (February 11, 2016): “…Perhaps most disheartening as the state prepares itself for what inevitably seems will be another protracted budget battle, legislators are preparing to pack up for the rest of February before returning for six session days in March and another six in April. That’s 12 days of legislating between now and May 1. State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria County argues lawmakers should stay in Harrisburg to resolve last year’s failed budget and begin work on the 2016-17 plan. ‘Passing the budget is the only real job we have, all the other stuff is extra,’ Barbin said. The extra stuff — public appearances, hand-shaking — certainly are an important part of the job. Face-to-face interaction with constituents and critical part of the representative democracy. They pale in comparison, however, to assuring state-mandated funding is properly, timely and efficiently distributed.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Letter: The budget ball is in the Legislature’s court (February 14, 2016): “…If the governor is so off base, as some suggest, then all the Republican-controlled Legislature has to do is pass a budget by a veto-proof margin. So the ball and the responsibility for the gridlock are in the Republican Legislature’s court. Gov. Tom Wolf is doing exactly what he said he would do when he was running for office and elected by a wide margin. The Legislature should stop throwing a tantrum and pass a budget along the reasonable and popular priorities outlined by the governor.”

Scranton Times-Tribune: Editorial: Later always better for politicians (February 14, 2016): “…If the Legislature insists on maintaining the status quo rather than adopting a realistic budget, the state government will face a deficit of between $300 million and $500 million by the end of this fiscal year, and another $2 billion in the next fiscal year…In terms of math, the question is pay now or pay later, when it will be even more expensive. But for politicians whose priority is simply to remain in office, dealing with serious systemic problems later is always preferable. This election year, voters should not let them get way with it yet again.”

The Delaware County Daily Times: Guest Column: Pa. needs to face reality and solve its fiscal woes (February 15, 2016): “…For too many legislators, vilifying Gov. Tom Wolf may be effective partisan politics these days but the state’s budget realities as highlighted by the governor are a reality. Pennsylvania faces a severe structural deficit (estimated at $1.9 billion for the next fiscal year) that threatens to bring additional credit downgrades and further cuts to crucial state programs that educate our children, aid the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and protect the environment…Pennsylvanian’s elected officials are not governing. And the state is in big trouble…”

New Castle News: State budget impasse: New Castle superintendent lashes out at Turzai (February 16, 2016): “The New Castle Area School District superintendent blames the extended state budget impasse on Speaker of the House Mike Turzai. John J. Sarandrea told the New Castle School Board last week that state Rep. Turzai, a Republican, sent everyone home for the Christmas holiday break when ‘they had the votes to pass the budget. He refused to bring it to the floor and sent everybody home for the holiday break. That’s a fact. He has his eye on the governor’s mansion, he is a Catholic school guy all the way, he took $180,000 in campaign donations for the Marcellus Shale people and $100,000 from charter schools,’ Sarandrea told the board at its public work session. ‘He’s no friend of public education and he’s the reason – THE reason — why we don’t have a budget right now.’…”

Centre Daily Times: Get government back to business (February 17, 2016): “Republicans always say that government is best run like a business. Fortunately we have a very successful businessman in the governor’s office…CEO Tom Wolf didn’t meet his payroll by tricks and gimmicks and we voted for him knowing that Gov. Tom Wolf wouldn’t meet Pennsylvania’s expenses by those tactics either. Sen. Jake Corman needs to stand by the Republican rhetoric about government being run like a business, and get his caucus on board, too.”