Rendell and Evans: What a Comedic Duo

Governor Rendell is looking for ways to add over $300 million to the state’s current education expenditures. New taxes seem to be on the Governor’s mind. Rendell wants Pennsylvania to be one of a very small number of states that are actually increasing education spending during the economic downturn. Once again he is telling the teachers’ unions not to worry, he will make sure they get the funding needed to cover their raises and maybe even get some new teachers hired.

The economic perversity is beyond description. Let’s raise taxes in a soft economy to protect public sector employees from having to make any sacrifices during the prolonged slowdown. Apparently the notion that higher taxes could hamper the state’s return to any semblance of vitality has escaped the Governor. And making matters worse, years of ever increasing spending (adjusted for inflation) has brought little or no improvement to the state’s SAT scores or high school academic performance. Abysmal science scores point to ineptitude of the highest order in far too many schools. But the Governor insists on throwing more money at schools rather than looking for real solutions. If money were the answer to poor academic performance, Pittsburgh would be one of the top school districts in the country.

Not to be outdone by silliness when it comes to statements about taxes, the spokesperson for Rep. Dwight Evans said the Governor is right to talk about the need for more revenue and apparently with a straight face went on to observe, "Is there any appetite right nowto do new taxes? I am not getting that sense." An understatement if ever there was one. Indeed, if Rep. Evans would talk to a few Pennsylvanians outside his own district he would not only find there is no appetite for new taxes, there is a lot of desire to see taxes reduced.

All this economic and budget silliness talk would be funny if these folks were not in charge of the government.

Rendell’s Strange View of Pain Sharing

In a recent comment on budget negotiations the Governor said, "We can’t get this budget resolved without everyone feeling some pain." What a preposterous statement. With his plans to increase or maintain spending on some items, how can it be that he expects everyone to share in the budget pain? Only in the mind of the overly zealous can an increase in spending be viewed as pain. Their ludicrous argument? The increase is less than we wanted.

Unlike other states where the governments have actually made real cuts in overall spending to reflect the revenue shortfall they face, Pennsylvania’s Governor wants to raise spending from last year’s budgeted level with significant boosts in education.

Share the pain? There is no indication teachers will lose any pay raises or benefits and, in the vast majority of districts across the state, no jobs are at risk. Asking recipients of a very big fraction of state and local spending to help by forgoing this year’s raise would have been a reasonable request. But the Governor’s and most legislators’ loyalty to-or fear of-the teacher unions have taken such a common sense notion off the table.

As a result we see the remarkable stance of a Governor wanting to raise taxes in an economy gripped by recession-tax increases that will be with us for a long time with their attendant damage to growth-in order to boost spending from last year’s level. Now that is chutzpah of the highest order. The state deserves better from its leaders.