No state budget yet: Pay attention to the reasons why
We are supposed to have a state budget today.
And we, the shareholders in the state of Pennsylvania’s government, have a right to be upset at this annual political tug-of-war that leaves the state budget hanging by a thread.
But just who should we be upset with?
You can take the convenient route if you wish. The Republicans control the state House and the governor’s chair. Their leadership shut Democrats out of talks late last week, a tactic we don’t approve of, and today there is no budget.
But, as is almost always the case in Pennsylvania politics, it’s not quite that simple.
Democrats continue to resist attaching privatization of the liquor system as a means of raising revenue and reforming of the state’s underfunded pension system.
Many Republicans, and especially Gov. Tom Corbett, give every indication that they believe these things will only get done when they are attached to a budget quandary.
Democrats, meanwhile, want to solve the funding shortfall in the state budget by instituting a severance tax on gas drilling in addition to the impact fees companies already pay.
Republicans don’t want to raise any taxes.
You can choose your villain yourself, but just taxing gas companies at the risk that Pennsylvania’s economic strong suit will leave the state doesn’t seem like a strong plan.
Especially when it’s viewed against the prospect of starting to solve pension problems, not raising taxes and ridding the state of its liquor system.