With Pennsylvania’s State Budget deadline looming, the Legislature has opted to spend these final days playing politics and reviving old discredited attacks on workers instead of working to pass a real budget plan.
The GOP budget, passed by the State House on Saturday, is a mirror image of failed budgets passed under Governor Corbett. It creates a $3 billion deficit, it relies on gimmicks like fund transfers to provide one-time savings, and it fails to invest in education or provide property tax relief to homeowners. What’s more, the legislature passed this budget knowing that it was all just political theater. Governor Wolf made it clear from day one that he would veto any budget that punishes, not protects working families. Still, the ultra-conservative GOP leadership in the House continued to push their inadequate and flawed budget rather than negotiating in good faith with the Governor or Democratic lawmakers.
Playing politics with the state Budget was just the start, however. Over the weekend and into the beginning of this week we have seen both chambers of the legislature take action on ideological attacks targeting workers’ rights and middle class jobs.
House Bill 466, the liquor privatization bill that was passed by the House in February was referred from the Senate Law & Justice Committee last night, and will likely see a full Senate vote by tomorrow.
Senate Bill 1, which would eliminate defined benefit pension plans for teachers and state employees, and which passed the Senate in May is now on second consideration in the State House, with a vote on final passage possible as soon as tomorrow.
There is also talk of new votes on other anti-union bills including paycheck protection, stalking & harassment (the bill that would criminalize constitutionally-protected activities during labor disputes and organizing campaigns), and several attacks on teachers and education.
These ideological attacks are ones which the GOP-controlled legislature would not vote on when they had an enthusiastic accomplice in Governor Corbett, but they seem happy to pass these bills now that they face near-certain veto on the desk of Governor Wolf. This is the kind of political theater that explains why the legislature currently has only a 28% approval rating, while 53% of voters disapprove of the job they are doing.