Lame Duck, or Big Winner?

Tony Phyrillas celebrates Rendell’s losses in the budget deal – too bad that doesn’t do taxpayers any good.

  • Phyrillas likes the “no new taxes” – but new taxes became irrelevant once we realized there was a $650 million surplus; a surplus which should have been returned to taxpayers through tax cuts, but was not.
  • Phyrillas states “Senate Republicans promised to hold the line on spending at the rate of inflation, and almost kept that promise” – not even close. The Taxpayer Protection Act that 30 Senators endorsed (and Senate leaders “promised to hold the line” at) would limit spending to a 3.15% increase, or an $823 million increase. Instead, the agreement will increase spending by 5.3% (Tony’s numbers are wrong), or 4.4% even if you include the “end-of-the-year” supplementals as part of last year’s budget. Thus, this budget exceeds the TPA by $558 million. When they said “hold the line”, I thought they mean the other side of the line.
  • Furthermore, the budget exceeds Gov. Rendell’s proposal by $220 million – meaning that had they passed the Governor’s proposal as it was (granted, an unrealistic expectation), they would have spent less; not been held hostage on transit, energy, health care, smoking bans, new debt, etc; and there would have been no furlough.
  • And Tony also enjoys that the Governor didn’t get his peripheral items (energy bonds for corporate welfare, Cover All Pennsylvanians, and Jonas Salk bonds) – but those issues have merely been put off until later. While Rendell is acting like a kid demanding every toy in the toy store, the Senate GOP is enabling him by, instead of telling him NO!, giving some for his birthday and more for Christmas.
  • Phyrillas ignores what the Governor did win – including (reportedly) a promise to crease his “Pre-K Counts” program, which will institutionalize government control of preschool, run private providers out of business, and reduce choices for families. This will essentially expand the struggling public school monopoly to younger children, and will become another unfunded mandate, potentially costing billions.
  • Probably the worst part of the budget deal is the Transportation plan – which Tony inexplicably praises because it is ” a far cry from the billions Rendell wanted for mass transit by leasing the Turnpike”. Tony, under a Turnpike Lease the taxpayers pay $0 – tolls could potentially go up, but would be limited by the lease agreement. Under this plan, taxpayers will get soaked by a 25% increase in tolls on the Turnpike in 2 years, new tolls on I-80 (though that part is probably illegal under federal law), and have to pay of $5 billion in bonds (with interest) and fees for bond lawyers. How is less money, higher costs better than more money, less costs?