Pennsylvania deserves better than kick-the-can response to problems
02/19/2014 05:43PM, Published by ACL, Categories: Opinion
Letter to the Editor:
We have a pension crisis in Pennsylvania. It was created by former Governor Tom Ridge and the State Legislature when they passed Act 9 of 2001, then kicked down the road by Governor Ed Rendell and the State Legislature for the eight years that he was in office.
In 2011, the pension crisis was addressed by Act 120, a balanced bipartisan solution to a long-term problem that moves the state toward paying off the bill. Now Governor Tom Corbett, in an effort to get reelected, has decided to kick that pension reform can down the road yet again, by taking funds dedicated to reducing the amount that the government should pay on this debt and using those funds elsewhere. This debt was accumulated during a decade of government underfunding, which the legislature knew would have to be paid eventually and chose to ignore. In realistic terms, it is like paying the minimum amount on a credit card and spending wildly on gifts. This is not fiscal responsibility. It’s irresponsibility for what appears to be a re-election tactic.
We need to ask exactly what new money is Governor Corbett going to use to fund the things that he has promised in his budget proposal and is it sustainable funding? We know he is banking on hundreds of millions in savings for proposals that have yet to be approved, like his Medicaid plan. We know he’s asking to cut funding to Emergency Services, veterans needs and natural resources. We know he is also suggesting that we postpone nearly $400 million in payments to businesses that provide care to the disabled.
Making only 11 payments in a fiscal year, instead of 12 to make it appear that there is money to be had. Granted this kind of slick accounting has been around in government for a long time, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s business as usual and it needs to stop. The people of Pennsylvania deserve honest accounting and fiscally responsible spending.
Governor Corbett and the legislature should be focusing on the long-term fiscal health of the state. We should be closing the corporate tax loopholes that allow more than 70 percent of businesses to avoid paying taxes. We should expand the federal Medicaid plan into Pennsylvania that would help struggling families and bring thousands of new jobs into Pennsylvania. We should also be creating a fair natural gas severance fee that is in line with other states and focus on growing good jobs in Pennsylvania.
Can this be accomplished? You bet it can!
Candidate, 158th House District