There’s a state budget in place, but no one is happy

There’s a state budget in place for the fiscal year that began July 1.

But no one seems particularly happy with the spending plan for Pennsylvania.

Lawmakers, including Republicans as well as Democrats, expressed discontent that Gov. Tom Corbett cut $65 million from the Legislature’s own account to help balance the budget.

But Corbett was not happy with what he called the “unfinished business” lawmakers left on the budget table. He wanted action long overdue to combat an ever-growing state worker pension fund crisis and to privatize the liquor store system.

Corbett’s action to cut the Legislature’s fund may strike some as punitive and childish. It looks that way to us.

But he’s got a right to be frustrated. It’s much more childish that the Legislature won’t privatize the liquor store system when there is a revenue stream sitting there and privatization has proven workable in 48 other states.

And it’s downright irresponsible to not reform the pension system when the underfunding gap grows exponentially each year, a clear threat to all other parts of the state budget in the future, including schools and human services programs.

These two issues have become a political tug-of-war between the Corbett administration and public unions.

Lawmakers both Republicans and Democrats have a chance to be part of the problem-solving process in these two cases, but don’t seem to have the spine to get beyond scoring political points with particular interest groups.

No one including the public unions – needs to be harmed by action on either liquor privatization and pension reform. The special interest groups and their bought-and-paid-for legislative cronies just like to make it seem that way.

And that’s why Pennsylvania is not as progressive a state as it should be and needs to be.

The end result is petty budget chicken fights that don’t really solve any of Pennsylvania’s long-term problems.

If lawmakers want to show they hear the majority of Pennsylvanians, not just the special interests, they will take post-budget action on these two items.

The average Pennsylvanian doesn’t care that this is an election year. They want to see a privatized liquor system and they don’t want future pension funding woes to penalize them in the form of school tax increases and cuts in education and human services programs.