Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Autumn Crystal Ball

The state House returns to Harrisburg next week. And since it recessed for the summer, our kids have returned to schools with fewer teachers and larger class sizes, the number of unemployed Pennsylvanians has grown and through a series of weather-related events, flood waters pounded every corner of the Commonwealth causing property damage and needless deaths.

Coincidently (or not) public education funding was slashed, job training programs were cut and money for flood control projects was eliminated in this year’s state budget.  All while hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were left unspent, waiting for some other “rainy day”.

The GOP-led state House has repeatedly proclaimed its focus as “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” yet there is little evidence that any of the “meaningful” measures they claim to have passed since taking control in January have gained any traction in the continued effort to produce jobs.

It shouldn’t come of much of a surprise that a group focused on passing legislation to root out near non-existent voter fraud, expanding the Castle Doctrine, and shuttering women’s health centers hasn’t found much success on the job creation front.

So when the House returns to Harrisburg on Sept. 26, what has the Majority Leader touted as his top priority?
•             Lowering the tax burden on Pennsylvanian small businesses by closing the Delaware loophole –no;
•             Ensuring more working Pennsylvanians have access to health care – nope;
•             Protecting our state’s water supply – guess again;
•             Finding solutions to cure our state’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure -- not right now.

GOP Leader Mike Turzai announced in July that his top priority for this autumn is liquor privatization. A plan that would immediately kill 5,000 family sustaining jobs, more than double the number of liquor stores, and do nothing to guarantee lower prices, but would almost definitely drive up public safety costs across the state.

Only time will tell if Republican leadership will pick up the pace in passing legislation that favors Pennsylvanians over private interests, that values transparency over backroom bargaining, and deals with the Commonwealth’s most pressing problems instead of political preferences.