Thursday, June 27, 2013

GOP policies described by Republicans as “historic,” “commonsense,” “responsible;” but by Dems and ultimately the courts as “unconstitutional”

It’s been a week of historic court decisions – and not just in Washington. Earlier this week, yet another of the Corbett/Turzai–led cabal’s milestone policies was determined by Commonwealth Court to violate the state Constitution. This time it was the Human Services Block Grant program.

Last year’s pilot program, described by GOP leaders as giving counties “flexibility” to spend human services money where they believe it is most needed (with the added bonus of having their budgets slashed 10 percent), evidently was so flexible in its interpretation of state law that it went outside the bounds of the constitution.

It’s easy to lose track of which GOP policies are under court review at any given time since so many laws signed by Gov. Tom Corbett (ehem, former Attorney General –so I must  know the law) end up there.

Among other PA GOP’s classics under scrutiny are 2012’s “Voter ID which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania” law and Act 13, which stripped municipalities of the ability to approve their own zoning regulations.

And let’s not forget the ongoing hot potato plan to hand over control of our billion dollars in revenue-generating state Lottery to a foreign country which would be permitted to change the gaming environment in the Commonwealth with no oversight or run it into the ground and give it back to us (at a price) with no repercussions, which was rejected by current PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Perhaps if the GOP would just take a second to listen to Democrats upon occasion they could prevent future carpal tunnel syndrome in the governor’s bill- signing hand, because during floor debate for both Act 13 and Voter ID, we questioned the constitutionality. I hate to say “we told you so,” but “we told you so.”

I do have to hand it to the GOP, because they seem to have a laser beam focus on spurring job growth in the legal sector.  

Corbett’s office alone is spending unspecified millions of dollars on outside law firms (from Baltimore and New York) to handle these issues – at a time when the governor has been crying wolf about sorting out “must haves from nice to haves.”

However court scrutiny is nothing new to Gov. Corbett because remember as Grand Poobah Attorney General a whistleblower case was brought against him in federal court alleging he terminated two employees for having the audacity to call for an independent investigation into some AG office operations. The court dismissed one count of the suit, but before closing the case said two counts are viable in the appropriate state court.

…there was also the time he joined 12 other attorneys general on a lawsuit regarding Obamacare, the same Obamacare that was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2012.

But we know health care has never been Corbett’s forte because his first action as governor was to dismantle adultBasic, the health care program serving 40,000 working Pennsylvanians, paid for partially using funds from PA’s share of the federal Tobacco Settlement and by program enrollees. Corbett then used the tobacco funds for other non-health related issues and that was found to be unconstitutional by a Commonwealth Court judge just a few months ago. 

Of course the GOP’s geography aptitude may be called into question too, as their first attempt at redistricting maps made history by being the first to be rejected as unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in 50 years!

And just this month, Gov. Corbett’s flipflop on the Jerry Sandusky-induced NCAA sanctions demonstrates his misunderstanding of the law. After originally accepting the “serious penalties” as part of the “corrective process…,” he reversed his stance and opted to sue the NCAA.  That lawsuit has been dismissed by a federal judge, calling it a “fairly easy decision to dismiss.”

Just so I can say “I told you so” – my guess that if the Corbett/Turzai cabal is able to convince enough lawmakers to go along with their liquor privatization and pension schemes to get them to the governor’s desk, they’ll end up in the courts as well with similar consequences.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The truth behind Gov. Corbett and GOP claims about state education funding.

When the GOP claims to have put more state funds into education than ever before, check out the red line on the chart above. The GOP has put marginal funds into ONE education budget line item, while ELIMINATING others.