Christman Blog: I Hate to Say I Told Ya So, But…

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)