Rendell’s Made-Up Government Workers Layoffs

Here is a letter to the editor I recently submitted on Gov. Rendell’s threats of layoffs if Congress doesn’t give him FMAP Money:

Gov. Rendell has been busy lobbying Congress, claiming that if they don’t give Pennsylvania $850 million in federal taxpayer funds for Medicaid, 12,500 state and local government workers will be laid off. Unfortunately, too many in the media have run this number, even though it was pulled from thin air. Just last week, the Governor pegged the number at 24,000.

The state has no plan in place if the federal funding doesn’t come, nor do local governments have plans if they don’t get state aid. Thus, there is no way of knowing the impact on government jobs.

This is the same tactic Gov. Rendell has used year after year-threaten layoffs or cuts to popular services to push more spending. It seems like a “mad libs” game: all you have to do is insert a dollar amount and a tragic outcome.

Additional federal dollars will only briefly satiate state spending. Instead, we must address out-of-control state spending. Gov. Rendell grew the state budget by $8 billion – double what it needed to keep pace with inflation. Overspending continues on pork-barrel programs like WAMs, borrowing for projects like the Arlen Specter Library and the Jack Murtha Center, nation-leading corporate welfare grants, and spending millions to lobby Congress for more money.

Over the past year, Gov. Rendell has slimmed down by sticking to a strict diet. He needs to do the same with state government.

As I’ve noted recently, if you follow me on Twitter, at the same time Gov. Rendell and others are threatening layoffs among school teachers (and the equally popular firefighters and police), the National Center for Education Statistics reports that, nationally, school employment grew by 1.8% last year, while enrollment dropped. And Pennsylvania teachers are striking for higher wages and benefits. Maybe, just maybe, our education system isn’t as underfunded as Gov. Rendell would have you believe.