In a pre-Christmas press conference Pennsylvania’s Governor decided to play Santa to the teachers union and the public education establishment. Notwithstanding the obvious and pressing need to relieve taxpayers of some of the burden of the coming massive deficits in the state budget–as well as the ballooning shortfall in the state employee pension fund and the enormous pending increase in funding the state teachers’ pensions will require–the Governor says he will include another increase in state funding for education in the next budget year.
It can be concluded from the Governor’s intentions that he places public education above every other function of government and far above hard pressed taxpayers. And the dirty and cynical shame of it is that all higher spending does is beget more demands for spending. State taxpayers, paying both property and state taxes, can be forgiven if they begin to chafe and complain loudly about the generosity government chooses to bestow on public sector employees. While other states have had to make cuts in education spending in the face of economic reality, in Pennsylvania school employees are awarded special protected status. Not even a request to voluntarily freeze teacher pay has been uttered by any public official even though tens of thousands of their fellow citizens have lost jobs, are on short hours, or, worse yet, have faced losing their homes.
Of course it is of a piece with the situation at the national level where government hiring and pay raises are running rampant. Tragically, we are witnessing the turning of the vision of the Founding Fathers on its head. Rather than being the servant of the people, government has become the master as the people have become docile and acquiescent in the face of vanishing liberty. Santa Rendell is simply the local version of the atrocity that is and has been happening to the nation.
While we can still say it, Merry Christmas to all.