If you won’t pass 12 months of our crappy budget, pass 4 months of it.
That’s the plan of Pennsylvania Republicans to swindle voters into accepting lower expectations out of state government.
While Governor Wolf talks compromise, GOP lawmakers stamp their feet, cross their arms and pretend that’s somehow doing their jobs.
Three months passed the deadline for a year-long state spending plan, Republicans in both the House and Senate pushed through a stopgap budget along party lines that could only see the light of day because of their numerical majority.
Gov. Wolf vetoed their year-long budget in June because it failed to fix the damage of four years of budget cuts to essential public services like education. Now Republicans are demanding he accept four months of the same and we’ll talk about the rest later.
Wolf is expected to veto this stopgap measure on Monday.
But this doesn’t mean the newly-elected Democratic governor is unwilling to compromise. That’s all he’s been trying to do for the passed 90 days! He’s offered major concessions to the GOP including proposals for private management of the state liquor system and limits to traditional pensions for future state and public school workers.
The response? Nothing.
I guess Republicans don’t get how compromise is supposed to work. One side gives up something and then the other side does the same until both parties can meet in the middle. But in Harrisburg it’s been all give from the governor and nothing from the Republican legislature.
‘Give us everything we want for 4 months’ is not a compromise!
This is what happens when you let billionaires buy our government. You get a state of gerrymandered districts. The majority of residents voted for Wolf because he promised to overturn these Republican policies, but with the state chopped up into voting districts along party lines, the GOP gains a majority in the legislature though they do not have a numerical one of residents. And this Republican majority relies on the votes of Tea Party ideologues who will accept no discussion, no bargaining, no give-and-take.
That’s exactly what the 1% funding these stubborn legislators want. The super rich lounging behind their thick walls and glittering gates want the rest of us to become fed up with our government. They want us to give up on Democratic process as a way to ensure public goods. They are sabotaging our oldest and most revered institutions to prove to us how badly they work.
You see, they don’t care about public goods because these things don’t directly impact them. Why should they care if our public schools are dying of starvation? Their kids don’t go to public schools.
Moreover, if we actually go with Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget and fund elementary, middle and high schools, the rich will have to help pay for it. They’ll have to pay their fair share. That’s something these leeches will never do willingly.
For four years under the previous Republican governor our public schools had been put on a starvation diet cutting almost $1 billion a year from a system that already was one of the least equitable in the country.
Public schools are funded mostly by state and local governments. If you ranked all 50 states in the country by which ones shoulders the highest burden of education costs, Pennsylvania comes in 45th. The Commonwealth only pays 36.1% of the bill – far below the national average of 45.5%. Wolf wants to bring that up to 50%, but when it comes to doing right by children, Republicans apparently are fine with being below average.
But exactly how low can you go?
Not only does the Commonwealth skimp on all its children, it gives up on the poor. The money train makes long luxurious stops at rich districts but barely even comes to a halt at poor ones before chugging on down the line.
We spend less on our poor students compared to our rich ones than ANY OTHER STATE! When it comes to cheating impoverished kids out of an education, we’re number one!
Nationwide, rich schools already spend on average 15.6% more than high poverty schools. But in Pennsylvania, the difference is 33%!
We are systematically short-changing our neediest children year-after-year, and instead of fixing that, Republicans demand another 4 months of neglect!
But as lawmakers bicker, without a state budget, schools aren’t getting the funding they had expected. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, poor schools are forced to dip into their reserves to keep their doors open.
Districts were required by law to complete their spending plans months ago making educated guesses how much they’d get from the state. Without that money coming in, they’re surviving on their rainy day funds – and as usual storm clouds are pouring on our schools.
Districts serving poor communities often don’t have much left over to continue running while Harrisburg plays political games. If something isn’t done soon, poor districts might not be able to continue functioning.
And that’s just what Republicans are expecting.
Look at all the damage the Democrats are doing by not accepting our stopgap budget, they say. Sure! Our spending plan shortchanges these kids, but at least it gives them something! Can you really be so hard hearted that you’ll deny them anything at all!?
So our state politics has come down to a desperate game of chicken. Can our schools hold out while the Democrats try to bargain for a better deal? Will the public realize it’s really Republicans who are being unreasonable?
Does anyone care anymore? Has everyone just checked out because the whole situation is too ugly to watch?
I mean you can eat a crap sandwich if you don’t have to see yourself doing it.