Yesterday, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial (paywall) attacking House Republicans for defending Pennsylvanians against tax increases and working to avoid driving the state deeper into debt. The editorial is heavy on insults and light on facts.
For example, without offering any proof, the editorial impugns the motives of House Republicans, claiming their opposition to a budget resolution is primarily political. This charge is ironic, considering House Republicans passed a budget back in April. Unfortunately, that budget was largely ignored for the next 86 days. Instead, lawmakers scrambled to put together a far more expensive plan in the final two days of June.
The Inquirer also attacks lawmakers’ latest effort to balance the budget—a proposal offered by a contingent of House Republicans focused on avoiding broad-based tax increases on working families and billions in borrowing. Here is part of the paper’s misguided analysis:
For example, the House plan would transfer to the General Fund $8.3 million from the state’s settlement with Mylan Pharmaceuticals for overcharging allergy suffers [sic] who bought EpiPens for emergency use. That money is supposed to help replenish Pennsylvania’s Medicaid fund. Or do poor, sick Pennsylvanians matter to the Republicans?
Instead of engaging in a thoughtful debate on the merits of Medicaid, the Inquirer stoops to the politics of personal destruction. In reality, a strong case can be made that sending more dollars to Medicaid is neither necessary nor helpful to those who depend on the program. And given Medicaid’s track record, it’s easy to see how lawmakers determined to help Pennsylvanians in need could come to the conclusion that better alternatives exist.
Unfortunately, the parade of insults continued:
It’s as though House Republicans made up numbers to reach the $2.4 billion needed to clear the state’s deficits from last year and this one. There was no concern for the impact on agencies and programs whose funds would be raided.
Again, facts are not on the Inquirer’s side. House Republicans put together specific criteria for the funds they tapped, one of which includes ensuring the continued operation of funds identified in the shadow budget.
However, the editorial does get one thing right: Lawmakers should scrutinize every dollar spent or sitting in the state’s accounts.
This scrutiny must apply to shadow budget fund balances, which can serve as a one-time solution to pay the state’s one-time bills.
Lawmakers should reject the paper’s erroneous analysis of the “Taxpayer’s Budget” and move forward on a solution that balances the budget using money taxpayers have already paid and without forcing families to make budget cuts of their own.