Monday, July 09, 2007

PA Government Shutdown

So, there you have it. The governor has ordered a partial shutdown on the state government. Of course, some complicated gymnastics allowed the casinos to stay open -- we must have our priorities. State parks, drivers license centers, state welcome centers, and so on, are closed.

John Mick, Christina Gostomski and Kari Andren have a good write up, "Rendell orders partial shutdown" in the Morning Call. They quote the governor as calling the furloughing of state workers ''the most bitter of all decisions for me.''

Brett Lieberman at Pennsyltucky Politics also has a detailed description in "Shutdown." He quotes the governor as saying "Let me say to our hardworking and dedicated state employees, I'm sorry we're here. We worked as hard as we could today to get this done," he said.

Apparently Senate Republicans thought the governor would not follow through on the furlough. Wrong-O.

The sticking point is not the budget per se. It is the governor's energy plan, which involves tacking about 45 cents a month to a household's energy costs. The Inquirer ran some in-depth articles on the subject yesterday: "Questions, answers on energy plan, and "Shifting the peak demand equation," both by Jeff Gelles.

And because of this squabble 25,000 state workers aren't getting paid today. Tourists are getting kicked out of state parks. People who took time off work to get their drivers license renewed will have to take time off again another day.

This has happened before though not often. Over the 1995 Christmas holiday, when Pres. Clinton came to loggerheads with the Congress parts of the federal government were closed. As it happened we had an out of state house guest at that time and had to drop some plans from the agenda because some of the things our guest wanted to see were closed. That's probably why I remember the dates so well. Earlier in Rendell's administration one of his lines in the sand inconvenienced me personally. Still does to some degree. If the situation had gotten worse it would have cost me hundreds dollars out of pocket and a lot of time. However these are inconveniences, and don't affect whether or not the mortgage gets paid.

It leaves a really bad taste when someone puts your livelihood, the ability to pay the rent and feed the kids in jeopardy, because they're in a sandbox battle with someone else, with none of the parties in the battle having a personal stake in the outcome. Show me anyone in the groups fighting who will personally suffer any serious consequences from this situation. Oh, they may feel your pain but that's a little different from explaining to the kids why butter and sugar sandwiches or canned beans are on the menu again tonight or to the landlord why the rent will be late. Even a few days furlough is going to make a few bills late, which is going to affect some credit ratings and that is going to have long term consequences, higher interest rates on loans (and the ability to get loans), and the ability to get different jobs as some employers check credit ratings before hiring.

For a disagreement over 45 cents a month per household.

No comments: