Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Corbett's dysfunctional family values

Recently, many people (including the governor) have compared Pennsylvania's budget negotiations to that of a belt-tightening family sitting around the kitchen table making decisions on where to cut back.

Besides the fact that it is precisely economically challenging times like these when more families turn to Pennsylvania for a variety of assistance options -- from LIHEAP to higher education grants to unemployment compensation (and up until March, adultBasic), there are other inaccuracies with this overly-simplistic Beaver-Cleaver family comparison.

If you do choose to adopt the premise that running the Commonwealth, with its 12 ½ million people, is like that of an average family there are other flaws with the governor's comparison.

First, a family wouldn't leave a potential revenue source on the table. If your spouse came home one day and told you that they lost their job or had their hours cut back, sure you'd sympathize with them and look for ways to trim your budget, but you wouldn't just hunker down in a fit of depression...you'd encourage them to find a new job or supplement the family income with another revenue source to replace the lost income. So the "PA family" should be smart with the revenue it has, but also consider options for generating additional revenue, like a severance tax on Marcellus Shale. Especially when 70% of residents agree.

Similarly, you wouldn't allow your able-bodied 28-year old, who is still living at home for free to continue to do so without helping out with the family budget. And you certainly wouldn't give them an extra $50 a week in beer money to further deepen your revenue shortfall. But that's exactly what Gov. Corbett and the Republicans are doing.

They are refusing to close the Delaware loophole allowing corporations to make profits in Pennsylvania without paying taxes here, they are handing out bonus depreciation allowances to the tune of $200 million+ p/year to their corporate contributors, and are allowing big box retailers to keep money that customers paid in sales tax by calling it a "vendor discount."

Another thing your family wouldn't do is invest a lot of money in a product with unproven outcomes. Yet, the GOP is considering instituting a school voucher program, rather than maintaining the investment in our state's public schools, which have demonstrated measurable improvement over the past 8 years.

No doubt budgeting is tough: for a family of 4 and a state of 12 million+. Everyone supports cutting waste, fraud, and abuse...and everyone SHOULD be for a fair share solution, but when Pennsylvania's families are facing higher college tuition costs, elimination of full day kindergarten, cuts to healthcare and more, while multi-state and national corporations are being let off the hook for any tax burden and being given bonuses because "someone" took a "no tax pledge" on the campaign trail...it makes you wonder who is responsible for the dysfunction in this family?