EDITORIAL: Gov. Tom Wolf's government reform proposal is good plan for Pennsylvania

York Dispatch
  • Gov. Tom Wolf has made a government reform proposal.
  • Wolf's plan would freeze salaries if a complete state budget isn't delivered on time.
  • Wolf's plan would also ban gifts to all elected officials, among several other proposals.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a chief financial officer for a local company.

Now, for argument’s sake, let’s assume you failed in your duties to complete a balanced budget before your boss' mandated deadline.

Gov. Tom Wolf

What do you think would happen to you?

The answer is pretty simple — you’d likely be out of a job.

That’s the way things work in the private sector.

In the government sector, however, things work quite differently, especially here in Pennsylvania.

In recent years, our elected officials have consistently failed to meet the state budget deadline, but they’ve suffered few or no consequences for their dereliction of duty.

Gov. Tom Wolf would like to change that.

The first-term Democrat from Mount Wolf has made a common-sense government reform proposal that would include the suspension of pay for himself, lawmakers and their top aides when they have not fully enacted a budget by the annual deadline. His new proposal would freeze pay until a complete budget is passed.

That seems like a perfectly reasonable idea to us. Missing a paycheck or two might just provide our officials with the motivation necessary to act like adults, make a few compromises and get the budget done in a timely manner.

You shouldn’t get paid when you fail to do your job. It doesn’t happen in the private sector and it shouldn’t happen in the public sector.

Now, some folks will argue that it’s easy for Wolf to make such a proposal. After all, he’s a wealthy businessman who already donates his salary to charity. There’s some validity to that point.

Wolf wants gift ban, no pay for officials in budget standoff

Republicans, however, have long argued that the public sector should operate more like the private sector. Well, here’s their chance to live up to that belief.

In the private sector, if a CFO failed to provide a balanced budget on time, that CFO wouldn’t just have his salary frozen. That CFO would be fired.

Other parts of his proposal: Wolf’s reform proposal, which will be outlined Monday, March 19, also boasts several other rational propositions that we fully support. The plan would also:

  • Ban gifts to all elected state officials.
  • Include better campaign finance disclosure and limit political campaign contributions.
  • Require lawmakers to provide receipts when seeking reimbursement for expenses.
  • Mandate disclosure of donations made by people seeking government contracts.
  • Compel officials to make public the source and type of any outside income, and the total amount.

Wolf stopped the practice of accepting gifts among people under his authority when he took office three years ago, but that does not apply to state legislators and other elected state officials.

It should.

Gifts, obviously, can be used to unfairly sway votes.

His other proposals, meanwhile, would go a long way in increasing government transparency and should be applauded, especially during this Sunshine Week, which is a celebration of the public’s right to know.

His Republican opponents will surely claim that Wolf’s plan is a blatant attempt to try to score political points just nine months before the next gubernatorial election.

They may be right about that, but that doesn’t detract from the merits of his proposal.