Your page one August 30 editorial failed to mention the actions of our Governor, essentially leaving him off the hook for his central role in the budget impasse.
On May 6, the Senate passed a budget. At the Governor’s behest, the House did not consider any budget plan on the House floor until the middle of July, well past the budget deadline. Governor Rendell ultimately asked House leaders to pass Senate Bill 850 so he could pick and choose the items that would be funded during the impasse. However, the Governor intentionally excluded funding for a number of vital programs for his own political gain.
Our Governor vetoed money for the House and Senate’s daily operations, yet he approved the section of Senate Bill 850 that pays for the Governor’s staff payroll. More importantly, he deprived many vital social services of funding, including grants to college students, funding for food banks, public libraries, rape crisis and domestic violence programs, and early childhood education programs, all to gain “leverage” on the legislature, as he termed it. Even in cases where the Governor and legislative leaders agreed on the funding amounts for many programs, the Governor vetoed their funding to put pressure on legislators to accept a tax increase. While it is fair to point out the Legislature’s role in the impasse, it is worth noting that Governor Rendell had every opportunity to prevent people in our area from suffering unnecessarily as the final budget is crafted, but he chose to play Philadelphia-style politics instead of helping people in need.
Unfortunately, we are now 62 days past the budget deadline. Before Ed Rendell took the oath of office, the General Assembly and most Governors before him routinely passed most budgets prior to the June 30 deadline. Since his 2002 election, we have not enacted an on-time budget. Does anyone else see a pattern here?
Governor Rendell has been very upfront with his strategy; he wants to raise our taxes, and he’s willing to use any political weapon in his arsenal to get his way. Despite all the attempted political spin on this issue by the Governor, my constituents, from Tower City to Camelback Mountain, have urged me to stand strong and not submit to the Governor’s blackmail.
Our communities deserve a budget in the near future that meets the needs of area residents without unnecessary tax increases. My vote on the floor of the Senate will continue to reflect those desires, regardless of the Governor’s ill-considered attempts at threatening important programs through his vetoes.
Contact: Nick Troutman