Friday, March 25, 2011

Does the Commonwealth have too many ABCDs...

a few more can't hurt....

Last week the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held a hearing on what they call the ABCDs of state government. Many people contend that Pennsylvania has too many Agencies, Boards, Commissions and Departments. But why stop there, let's add committees and task forces and councils for good measure.

There is probably an argument to be made here. However I think the method that Gov. Corbett is using to attack the issue is amiss. The Scranton Times reported last week, that the governor thinks the best way to scale down the hundreds of groups appointed to consider everything from physical fitness and sports[1] to Asian American affairs[2], is to create another task force to review existing commissions, boards, etc.

Seriously, create another group to determine if Pennsylvania has too many groups already?

This is just the beginning, Leslie Gromis Baker, an advisor to the governor, spoke at a forum in January about Corbett's intention to create several commissions. One would look at the privatization of state assets, another transportation funding, and one to look at issues dealing with Marcellus Shale.

The governor isn't alone in his methodology. At the same Senate hearing, Nate Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation advocated that the governor create a temporary commission of business leaders and others to make a plan for streamlining state government, and that this is the key to economic growth and prosperity.

Some may argue that creating a commission is a good way to look like progress is being made without actually doing anything. Further, there are rarely mandates to implement any of the suggestions made by the commission. Or the reverse, a commission can make recommendations and take the blame if those recommendations turn out to be unsuccessful or unpopular.

More than likely this is just another attempt by the administration (similar to their budget ploy) to convince the public that they are doing one thing (eliminating waste, fraud & abuse) while executing another agenda (decimating basic education, public higher education & rewarding corporate contributors with tax breaks).

No doubt, this ABCD consolidation has little to do with streamlining government, but more to do with cutting services for working Pennsylvanians while exonerating corporations from any social responsibility.

A listing of some of the state's ABCDs can be found here.

[1] Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
[2] Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs