Budget Deal Reached?

Of course…

The deal would call for raising the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7.25 percent, Corman said. That would create about $2 billion in new revenue, which could cover a major property tax reduction and permit the state to increase basic education funding by $350 million in the current fiscal year. Special education would receive an additional $50 million in funding as well, Corman said.

Wolf’s spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, said Republican leaders had agreed to a larger education package: an additional $50 million more for prekindergarten this year, as well as $300 million combined for basic education, special education, and prekindergarten next year.

I posted on Facebook months ago that some Republicans would cave and “compromise” on a tax hike of “only” $X.

Splitting the difference, then they would turn around and say “see? it could have been much worse, we’re saving you money!”

If this deal is true, that’s going to be the pitch tomorrow or the next day.

November 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm Comments (0)

LOL, Again

My heart really weeps here…

An annual Pennsylvania tradition may take a backseat to state budget negotiations.

Every December, the commonwealth’s top politicians head to New York City to see and be seen at a long weekend of fundraisers, parties, and one swanky gala collectively referred to as Pennsylvania Society. But some are already talking about skipping the trip if the state doesn’t have a budget by the Dec. 12 main event.

“There’s no way we should be going to New York City, and going and celebrating Pennsylvania Society week, unless we have a budget done,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. “I mean I’ve been someone who’s gone there many years, I will not be there unless we have this budget completely resolved.”

“It would look like what it is – out of touch with where Pennsylvanians are,” said Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia. “You’re going to a big old party in New York City and schools are closing.”

They’ve been off for two weeks, completely un-coincidentally around election time. Heaven forbid they take another few days off for Pennsylvania Society.

November 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm Comments (0)

Twenty Seven. Twenty Seven Billion.

In a row.

When the government is shutdown, it does not mean what you think.

Since July, Pennsylvania has spent $27 billion — without a state budget.

Even many insiders didn’t know it.

“It floored me,” said Rep. Chris Dush, R-Jefferson County, who filed a request under the Right-to-Know Law to obtain the information.

The Department of Treasury confirmed the number Tuesday, the 119th day of a budget impasse. The amount is almost comparable to the state operating budget for a year, but it involves state and federal dollars, and special fund expenditures such as Pennsylvania Lottery winnings and property tax relief from state-regulated casinos.

$27 Billion over 119 days is $226 million a day, for 365 days it’s $82.5 billion.

By way of comparison, we spent $86 billion in 2014.

October 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm Comments (0)

House & Senate Caucuses: Broke

The now 119-day state budget impasse has gone on so long that all four legislative caucuses have exhausted their oft-criticized legislative reserves.

With no more financial cushion, the House and Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses have had to identify an alternative funding source to keep the legislative branch open for business for the duration of the impasse.

On Friday, the Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses joined their House Republican colleagues in what some suggest might be an unprecedented move of borrowing money to cover payroll and other costs associated with their operation.

Man, I’m really feeling bad for those guys. It’s almost like they have to budget like real people and real families.

How come I don’t read any stories about the Executive Branch crying poor?

October 27, 2015 at 6:59 pm Comments (0)

Electric City Electrified by Investment Returns

Wall Street Journal

An effort to turn this city into a rival of Hollywood isn’t turning out quite as planned.

A decade ago, Lackawanna County’s governing commission invested $500,000 to help the actor Paul Sorvino produce and direct a movie called “The Trouble With Cali” in Scranton, the county seat. The idea was to promote the city of 75,000 as a lower-cost alternative to Los Angeles or other big cities for film production.

Mr. Sorvino, whose many roles have included a mob boss in the Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas” and a police sergeant in the television series “Law & Order,” proved less adept as a director than he had as an actor.

This made me LOL

In return for its $500,000 investment, which covered a large share of the production costs, the county received three Blu-ray discs of the movie, which officials promise will be available soon at the Scranton library.

July 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm Comment (1)

Late budget

Hey, Republican legislature…


July 3, 2015 at 4:27 pm Comments (0)

The Congressional GOP had one job

You had one job, Republicans – oppose the Obama agenda.

Lying, horse-trading, and compromise are part of politics.  Much as sometimes we would like to live in a universe where this is not true, the fact is that governance can be dirty work.  But there comes a point where one wonders whether the compromises and lies have become too preposterously egregious to ignore.


Don’t think we don’t know that some of you got permission from leadership to vote against the DHS bill.

And don’t think we didn’t figure out that it was the Senate leadership who really sunk this ship.

Either you have been lying to us about your opposition to this policy, or you figured you were too incompetent to message the DHS thing satisfactorily.  If it is the former, then you should wonder why folks ought to continue to support the party.  If it is the latter, then you should be firing every single communications employee in the RNC, NRCC, and NRSC, because this should not have been a hard sell.

March 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm Comments (0)

Say What?

New Corbett ad.

It is rather astonishing to me that Wolf is running on a platform of raising taxes.

September 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm Comments (0)

Government is not a business

Tom Wolf wants us to think that he’ll run the state government like a business. His business, specifically. Government is not a business. Government is more like a mafia.

Not quite, but not as far off as you might think. Try stiffing the government its protection… er… tax payments, and see how long it takes until the men with guns come to sell your house out from under you, or maybe even stick you in a cage.

Don’t get me wrong, businessmen can be good in public office. Many of them see the need to streamline operations and cut fat. Quite a few of them understand the need for modest rather than overbearing regulation, and tax regimes that are low and predictable. These do not seem to be the major points Mr. Wolf is selling.

The “business” lesson Wolf seems most eager to apply is the raising of revenue. (“Fiscally responsible” is the new “tax and spend”.) But government revenues are an altogether different animal from business revenues. Business revenues are obtained by providing a valuable good or service to a voluntary customer base. Government revenues are obtained through force (implied and first, then literal) of arms. The only way to avoid this is to leave the state for another hopefully less mafioso jurisdiction.

Given that some level of taxation is necessary for any government, the question of growing revenues –presuming such a thing should be deemed desirable– relies on one or both of the following: growing the economic base and raising rates.

The latter, though more easily accomplished, undermines the former. Guess which one Tom Wolf emphasizes.

With glee, Wolf also brags about his company’s employee profit-sharing model. I don’t want government to share profits with its employees. Neither should any sane taxpayer.

But if we’re going to use a business analogy, ethical businessmen don’t fudge figures, as with the supposed billion dollar education cuts that have somehow resulted in record state spending on education. Neither do sound businessmen ignore long-term obligations, as with our broken pension system, for which the Wolf pack has no apparent solution. And nobody walks in to the board of directors and asks to be CEO without putting out a detailed fiscal plan.

Imagine it:

CEO candidate: We need to spend more on R&D.
Board: How much more?
CEO candidate: No clue.
Board: Thank you for your time. Please leave.

September 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm Comments (0)

A Lack of Nuance

Having recently railed against the “establishment”, it’s time for a crack at the base.

As I have previously asserted, the base is allergic to compromise.  While this idea is widely taken as a given among the establishment and the Left, few take the time to analyze the behavior.  The problem is actually a somewhat broader aversion to nuance.  Outrage fuels donations, and donations pay the bills, so there’s somewhat of a negative incentive for base-oriented groups to promote nuance.  But a lack of nuance can often inhibit constructive conservative policy movement.

A thought experiment: What if Democrats credibly and convincingly offered to cut Federal spending to such a degree that the budget would come into immediate balance, and also could somehow fix the Federal entitlement problem.  In exchange, Republicans would agree to a one percent increase in the personal income tax.  Do we take the deal?

True, the parameters of the thought experiment are absurd on their face, but for the sake of argument, take it for what it is.  We’d be fools not to take this deal, right?

Whoa, now!  Once you start to entertain this deal, you’re “for” raising income taxes.

Well, no, you weren’t really “for” it.  You were willing to make a concession in order to get a number of other things that you wanted and thought were more significant.

Take a more realistic issue, immigration.  The moment a Republican starts having any sort of conversation about immigration reform,  he is blasted as being “for” amnesty.  (The opponents of immigration reform use the term “amnesty” rather promiscuously, but for the sake of argument, I’ll use it here and not bother about details of what does or does not constitute “amnesty”.)

Understand that, to the Left, some form of amnesty is a sine qua non for any concessions on significant border security improvements, employment e-Verify, or – heaven forbid – voter ID.  You don’t even begin to have negotiations about how to deal with millions of illegal immigrants until you lay your amnesty bargaining chip down on the table.

But by reacting violently to this potential offer of amnesty as something we could consider giving up in order to get a better outcome, the base makes this a question of amnesty vs non-amnesty, not a question of what we could possibly get in exchange for amnesty.  When we put the focus on what we get in exchange for amnesty, we put the Democrats on the defensive.  When we focus on whether to offer amnesty at all, we make ourselves irrelevant, and the status quo reigns.

To be fair, Republican politicians have a history of being cheap dates.  I dare say though, it wouldn’t kill us to “show a little leg” on this issue.  I’m not “for” amnesty, I’m for using the offer of amnesty as a means of getting more significant concessions from the other side and for (hopefully) putting the issue behind us.  If we get a bad offer in return, we walk away and blame the Democrats for not being serious and for keeping people in the shadows unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, nuance requires trust, which is in short supply.

March 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm Comments (2)

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