Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Phony reformers embrace bloated Rendell budget

I've had my eye on several members of the freshman legislative class of 2006 since they were sworn into office in January. These people were swept into office as part of the pay raise backlash, in which 1 in 5 members of the state legislature were replaced.

Voters appear to have been fooled by smooth-talking candidates who made promises about cutting taxes, limiting state spending and supporting reform measures. They talked the talk, but when it came time to walk the walk, they fell flat on their faces.

With the final vote late Monday on the 2007-08 budget, it's no longer possible for these phony reformers to hide.

I'm referring primarily to Rep. David Kessler, D-130th Dist. in Berks County, Rep. Barbara McIlvaine Smith, D-156th Dist. in Chester County and Rep. Rick Taylor, D-151st Dist. in Montgomery County.

Other freshman lawmakers who turned their back on taxpayers include Rep. Duane Milne, R-167th Dist. in Chester County, Rep. Tim Seip, D-125th Dist. in Berks/Schuylkill counties and Rep. Mike Vereb, R-150th Dist., and Rep. Jay Moyer, R-70th Dist., both in Montgomery County.

All the freshman lawmakers listed above voted Monday night to increase state spending by a whopping $1.2 billion dollars.

"During Gov. Rendell’s first four years in office, the General Fund budget increased, on average, by nearly 6.4 percent annually," said Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation. "So the 5.2 percent increase in this year's spending is relatively better than years past. However, this budget falls far short of putting Pennsylvania back on the road to fiscal health and economic prosperity."

Kessler, McIlvaine Smith and Taylor have also failed to deliver on promises to work toward reforming Harrisburg.

A recent analysis by DemocracyRisingPA of voting records during the first six months of 2007 showed a lot of first-term legislators voted with the status quo party bosses most of the time. Voters want reformers, not puppets who dance to the party leaders' tune.

David Kessler voted 96 percent of the time with party bosses. Tim Seip and Rick Taylor voted 94 percent of the time with party bosses. Barbara McIlvaine Smith voted 93 percent of the time with party bosses. Jay Moyer voted 86 percent of the time with party bosses. Duane Milne and Mike Vereb voted 81 percent of the time with party bosses.

Click here for an Excel spreadsheet with data for each first-term lawmaker, and here for an Excel spreadsheet with data for each veteran lawmaker.

Kessler, McIlvaine Smith, Milne, Moyer, Seip, Taylor and Vereb will face voters again in 2008 when the entire House of Representatives stands for re-election.

Voters should correct their mistake and vote out these phonies.

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