Thursday, April 5, 2012

So you didn’t win last week’s Mega Millions?

What would you have done with last week’s $650 million jackpot?

Everyone has an idea of how they’d spend at least a chunk of last week’s record-breaking $650 million, even if they didn’t buy a ticket.

A beach vacation… home repairs… retirement… kid’s college tuition -- maybe all of the above.

Most of us can’t even fathom how much $650 million dollars really is (excluding the Romney’s of course). It’s fun to dream.

While $650 million is a lot of money for the average Pennsylvanian, it is a tiny slice of the overall Pennsylvania budget pie.  Still $650 million could go a long way toward restoring targeted programs that help Commonwealth residents every day…programs cut or eliminated by Gov. Corbett.

With $650 million, there are a number of Pennsylvanian priorities our state could use the money for:

·       Restore adultBasic funding. Using the jackpot funds, adultBasic health insurance could be restored to the 42,000 working Pennsylvanians who were kicked off their health insurance last year (many of whom have still been unable to acquire coverage) and the ALL of 505,624 people who were on the waiting list and were never admitted to the adultBasic rolls.

·       (Partially) Restore funding to public education. Although we couldn’t reinstate the entire billion-plus dollars cut from education funding by the Corbett administration last year, and cut again this year’s budget proposal, we could return funds to ensure some of the most critical programs remain intact and available to the Commonwealth’s students.

·       Return the $565 million funneled annually from the state’s Motor License Fund that pays for routine patrols by the State Police in municipalities which are home to 21% of residents and have opted to disband their own police departments.

·       Fund Year 1 of the Governor-appointed Transportation Funding Advisory Commission’s recommendation. At least this would put Pennsylvania on a path of beginning to repair our state’s ailing transportation infrastructure, to include over 5300 structurally deficient bridges and 8000 miles of poor roads. This would give Gov. Corbett another year to adhere to the wishes of Pennsylvanians and his own advisors, rather than a Washington, D.C. lobbyist.

·       Return the $629 million in cuts to DPW’s budget. Under the guise of eliminating fraud, waste and abuse 89,000 kids were cut from Medicaid since August, programs for mentally ill and intellectually disabled Pennsylvanians have been devastated, and our counties are left without the resources to meet the needs of their residents.

But these are just some of Pennsylvania residents’ priorities, chances are Gov. Corbett would probably use the $650 million to fund more tax breaks for his contributors.