Yesterday, millions of Pennsylvanians collectively hit the brakes on runaway government in Washington and Harrisburg. In race after race, they voted against years of over-spending, over-borrowing, and under-performing. Voters also sent the clear message that they don't want to be governed by the right, the left or the center; they want to govern themselves and for meddling government to just get out of the way!
On September 17, we celebrate the creation of our Constitution, one of the greatest governing documents ever conceived by the hand of man. This is the day we commemorate the birth of the United States as a nation, based on the rule of law and dedicated to the preservation of personal liberty, political freedom, economic opportunity, and the natural rights with which we are all endowed by our Creator.
I hope the Commissioners will seriously consider both the costs and the benefits of the LCHRC. They may find that there is reason to continue this work, but I hope not to pay lip service to "promoting diversity," but for the actual results and performance of the LCHRC's work.
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Jodi Hirsh wants you to believe that a shadowy, deep-pocketed, Washington-based organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a "stranglehold on our statehouse." That's the claim Ms. Hirsh, the Pennsylvania coordinator for the left-of-center People for the American Way, makes in a commentary currently running on PennLive. As a former ALEC member, I'd like to take a minute to correct the record.
Ms. Hirsh makes three main charges against ALEC: It's run by evil corporations, it writes bills so legislators don't have to, and it buys Pennsylvania legislators' love.
Her first charge is self-evidently ridiculous. People for the American Way, Ms. Hirsh's employer, is itself a corporation—one that takes in millions of dollars a year, according to its own website (PDF). I know a lot of businesses that would love to have that kind of revenue stream.
Her second complaint might sound more compelling, but it isn't. Yes, at ALEC meetings, members vote on model legislation that, if they so choose, they can then use as the foundation for real bills they introduce back home. This role isn't unique to ALEC. For example, there is another national group called the National Conference of State Legislatures where the same thing happens. And even if legislators don't participate in any groups like this...come on, do you really think they write their own bills most of the time? If so, I've got a bridge to sell you.
Okay, okay, you say. I get it. But what about the nice wine? Doesn't Ms. Hirsh have a point about ALEC buying legislators' love? Not in the slightest. If ALEC, which stands for limited government and free markets, truly had a stranglehold on our commonwealth, do you think for an instant that the Pennsylvania legislators who supposedly dance to its tune would have declined for years now to get government out of the booze business or bring about some sanity in public pensions? There's not enough free wine in the world to make that argument credible.
Obviously, ALEC is not the kind of organization that has a "stranglehold on our statehouse" and is creating an "increasingly disastrous problem" here in Pennsylvania. If you want to read about an organization that really does fit that bill, see Jim Panyard's latest piece from Media Trackers Pennsylvania on the so-called CLEAR Coalition. Mr. Panyard reports that this group and its members have $150 million at their disposal, focus their attention on Pennsylvania, and are quite clearly having a huge impact on our legislators' thinking.
ALEC takes in one fifteenth of that sum and spreads it across the whole country, politely helping legislators come up with good ideas to increase prosperity. But it is groups like the CLEAR Coalition, dominated by government union bosses who force workers to pay dues that fund politics, that make policymakers afraid to deliver the policy changes most Pennsylvanians want.
This morning, Pennsylvania lost its oldest living governor: George M. Leader, a York County Democrat who served from 1955 to 1959. My colleagues and I had the great pleasure of working arm in arm with Governor Leader, his family, and a broad coalition that transcended partisan boundaries to help bring substantive corrections reform to Pennsylvania in 2012. We were further honored when his daughter, Jane Leader Janeczek, agreed to join our Board of Directors in order to continue fighting for the policy changes our commonwealth so desperately needs.
Governor Leader’s passion for serving the underserved, from his elder care business to his philanthropic work to better the lives of the poor, the imprisoned and their families, is an inspiration to us all at the Commonwealth Foundation. So is the way he lived his life: Just as the Founders intended, he served in elected office and then, after a time, went back to live and work under the laws he helped enact—serving the public in a different way, as a successful entrepreneur. He believed deeply that finding effective and efficient ways of solving our public problems is not a partisan issue, and I’m so pleased that we were able to work with him to help realize some of his wishes last year.
May God grant the Leader family peace and joy as they celebrate a life that was unquestionably well lived.
posted at 09:16 PM | Comments
The dust has settled on the 2016-17 budget debate—at least for the moment. Some people hail the agreement as an example of what Harrisburg can accomplish when two parties work together. Others defend it as an improvement over previous budgets and the least bad option under the circumstances. These ...