Does one really think the governor was counting on Republican votes to begin with? For the Republicans to come out crowing that they are the ones responsible for killing the tax increase simply is not accurate.
Also, it needs to be noted that the budget would be well on the way to resolution if Republican leaders were negotiating in good faith. They have refused to look at a number of non-tax revenue sources to help restore much-needed programs, including the $750 million "Rainy Day Fund." If this isn't considered a "rainy day," then I don't know what is.
The Republicans want to paint themselves as the victims here, when they are the ones who have stalled the process by refusing to negotiate in any meaningful way. Doesn't it stand to reason that a meeting at the governor's residence would only last 20 minutes if the Republicans walked in and said they were unwilling to listen to any proposals?
This is all about politics. Recently, a Republican House member told me in private that he wanted me to vote for a tax increase so they could take my seat back in the next election. This same member has appeared in the media crying about supposedly being left out of the budget process. Seems pretty clear to me they're looking past the 2009 budget toward the 2010 elections.
But somehow they always seem to avoid any real scrutiny of what they claim. People, especially the news media, should be asking the Republicans why to this point they have refused to use the Rainy Day Fund, or the MCARE fund. Why won't they support "combined reporting," which would make corporations that pay no taxes in Pennsylvania finally pay their fair share, just like our many small businesses?
There are a multitude of options available to help Pennsylvania that do not include tax increases, but the Republicans don't want to talk about them because they would rather criticize the process than put forth any detailed solutions.
Of course the Republicans are backing away from the real work of making the next round of cuts, because they don't want to explain to their constituents why they cut services citizens frequently rely upon. It's much easier to pretend to be left out of the process, so you can press your little nose against the glass and cry about not being allowed inside with the big kids. It's a sham, and the people need to know that.
I haven't heard the Republicans suggest how we can close a budget gap in the billions of dollars. What specific cuts would they make? Why haven't House Republicans been focusing on the substance instead of crying about the process in a blatant attempt to score political points back home? Any member can stand on the floor of the House of Representatives under the privilege of unanimous consent and talk about anything they want, including the budget. Why have they kept their lips sealed? Why don't they put it forth to the public?
As a House Democrat, I can tell you that we are frustrated by the Jekyll-and-Hyde approach being taken by the Grand Old Party in Harrisburg, and we are preparing to do whatever we need to in order to get our government running and state workers paid. Unlike our Republican counterparts, we don't want those workers' next paychecks to be their last.
State Rep. Jesse White is a Democrat representing the 46th District.