Two weeks ago, I asked you to watch the state legislature during their frantic week-long sprint to the state budget deadline. And, I asked you to remember…
So what happened? Well, we did get a budget, but that was the one thing lawmakers had to accomplish by law. That on-time budget will be the headline on most of the junk mail your local lawmaker sends you the rest of this year (you’re paying for that postage, by the way).
But was the budget on time? As we head into the second week of July, lawmakers have yet to approve key portions of the fiscal code, the set of laws that allows the state to spend the money it approved on June 30th. The House and Senate have been engaged in a skirmish likely stemming from leftover hard feelings from the votes that did and did not take place in the final week of June.
As for the other issues that week, let’s take a look at how these high-paid lawmakers handled the big issues…
Transportation Funding: FAIL
This one is especially concerning given the fact that it’s a crisis that has been building for years and it’s a matter of public safety for every Pennsylvanian who gets into a moving vehicle that touches Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges. Not only did lawmakers fail to act, the transportation funding plan became a pawn in chess game, apparently being held up by lawmakers who had their own personal agendas.
Pension Reform: FAIL
Did this one ever really have a chance this spring? It looked like lawmakers were just going through the motions down the stretch and never expected this one to gain traction.
Liquor Privatization / Expansion: FAIL or SUCCESS (depending on your position)
Again, did we really think this had a chance? It seemed like the unions were calling the shots all the way on this one, and when push came to shove, Republicans were accusing Democrats of holding up transportation funding in an effort to kill alcohol privatization…all at the behest of, you guessed it, the unions.
Remember that a lot of work goes into doing nothing in Harrisburg, so the coming three month vacation is a welcome respite to most of your lawmakers. Hopefully they’ll use that time to plan ahead for fall and show us a little more than they did in the spring session.
(Brad Christman is the News Director for Radio Pennsylvania and has covered 19 state budgets)
We now offer the ENTIRE one-hour Ask the Governor audio program right here on PAMatters.com. Now, you can listen to the entire program and/or watch video clips of specific topics. Click the play button to get started…
This program was recorded Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 and includes discussions on the following topics and more: The state budget and the failure of the legislature to pass transportation funding, alcohol privatization or pension reform; Medicaid expansion; flooding in Clearfield County; Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary recognition; listener emails and much more!
It’s January and you return to your very well-paid job from a nice holiday break – a month and a half holiday break. Certainly everyone can relate to that.
Your boss welcomes you back and then informs you that he has several big and important projects for you to complete by mid-year. In fact, some of them are so important that the very financial future of the company is at stake. The good news, though, is that you have 6 whole months to make it happen.
What is your approach?
Do you jump into action, prioritizing and tackling each project independently and thoughtfully, spreading the work out so that you have adequate time to devote to each initiative? After all, this is very important. Remember…the entire company is trusting and counting on YOU.
Oh, did I mention that you can’t get fired for another year and a half? Yes, no matter how badly you bungle things, short of breaking the law, you’re guaranteed to be employed through December of 2014.
So, maybe you take a different approach to your assignments this year. Perhaps you spend 5 months and 23 days arguing with co-workers, demanding you get your way on everything and enlisting outside special interests to come in and bad-mouth anyone else’s ideas. Then, 6 days before your boss’s deadline, and with none of your work actually done, you can try to squeeze everything into one week before heading out the door bragging about how well-deserved your three month summer vacation is, regardless of how many of your projects are left unfinished. Why, you might even issue a press release boasting of your accomplishments.
Those are two possibilities for your approach to this important work assignment. Guess which one your state lawmakers took on the major issues of transportation funding, pension reform, alcohol privatization and the state budget in 2013.
Oh, sure, there was lots of talking, followed by more talking and then concluding with…talking, but here we are – 6 days before the expected end of the fiscal year – and not a single major initiative is finished in Harrisburg. Not one. In fact, a birdie is whispering in my ear that it’s quite possible this final week of the fiscal year is about to get off to an even rockier start than expected.
The games people play…with your company. With your money…
There is a silver lining to all this. Remember that boss I mentioned? Well, that boss is you. Remember that when you watch your employees’ performance in Harrisburg this week. Remember it when you’re looking at the condition of your company, also known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Most of all, remember it when you pull the curtain in November of 2014 and issue your worker evaluations, and don’t be fooled by those clever employees, who know about the power you hold in 2014 and will certainly try to convince you, maybe even bribe you, into believing that they are valuable members of the team and deserve to be retained for another 2-to-6 year contract. They’ll fill your inbox with full-color memos (produced on the company printer you paid for, by the way) detailing what they think, which usually fills up more space than would detailing what they accomplish. They’ll smile in your presence and tell you everything is just fine and dandy with your company.
But you’ll know better because you’ll remember everything you’ve seen this year…
(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania and a veteran of 19 state budget seasons in Harrisburg)
On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, state budget talks continue and lawmakers are still dealing with the big issues of liquor privatization, transportation funding and pension reform. Updates all around from lawmakers and the state’s Budget Secretary.
Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:
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