Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Newspaper: Trim the fat from the Legislature

Pennsylvania has spent $565 million more than it took in over the past four months.

How to make up a potential $1 billion to $2 billion budget shortfall by the end of the fiscal year?

The Philadelphia Inquirer suggests starting with the bloated Pennsylvania Legislature.

From an Inquirer editorial:
The legislature spends way too much on itself. But efforts to cut its expenses by 10 percent, or to shrink its size, have gone nowhere.

And let's keep repeating it until somebody in Harrisburg gets blue in the face: Elected leaders in the House and Senate are sitting on slush funds totaling about $200 million. They are hoarding this tax money for their own secret expenses, and refuse to give it back.

Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Chester) want to cut spending instead of raising taxes. But, like Democrats, Republicans almost always avoid cutting spending on themselves. Slash a welfare program? Sure. But don't you dare touch legislators' $11 million budget for "incidental expenses."

Given this record of bipartisan waste, how would the governor and the legislature ask the public with straight faces to pay a tax increase?

Or how would they ask Pennsylvanians to put the state deeper into debt, in part to pay for legislators' history of self-indulgence?

How would they justify laying off state employees, or dumping low-income residents from Medicaid rolls, on the heels of such recklessness?
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

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