The recent editorial about the differences over the state budget made a good start by quoting Ronald Reagan. He had it right – leadership is very much determining the right principles and sticking to them even during times of difficulty.
Most of the people contacting me do not want the typical tax-and-spend solution to this unprecedented state budget crisis. In this time of economic trouble, when too many have unfortunately found their jobs and their homes imperiled, and when rising costs are wrecking family budgets, we should not pile on a heavier state tax burden.
That principle is at the heart of the budget dispute. Governor Rendell is listening to those who want their spending interests protected, including those looking for greatly increased spending despite Pennsylvania having to contend with a record $3.25 billion deficit. We are listening to those who are saying the state must live within its means. To do that, we must cut spending, eliminate programs that are less than necessary, and find revenue in ways other than increasing taxes.
Governor Rendell needlessly inflicted pain and exacerbated the crisis by vetoing funding for dozens of programs that are important to families and communities. The extensive range of human service programs is a notable example. So is the veterans’ service outreach program, established to help honor our commitment to those who serve in the military. There is also no reason for college students to have uncertainty and anxiety over their student assistance. These programs do not affect the big issues in the budget conflict. In his effort to foist a major tax increase on Pennsylvania families, Governor Rendell has hurt a lot of people to achieve political leverage.
It is frustrating that there is no resolution in sight, and unfortunate that the absence of a full state budget is causing so much difficulty for those who provide critical services and for those who depend on those services. However, to be pressured into “horse trading,” as the editorial suggests, would be to walk away from the principles Pennsylvania taxpayers are counting on us to uphold.
While I understand that some believe the budget can only be solved in Harrisburg, the truth is there is value in legislators going back to their districts, listening to concerns, discussing the principles at stake, and touching base on the dozens of other issues people care about. The consequences of this budget will be felt for many years, so constant communication with constituents who pay the bills is vital.
Senator Lisa Baker
20th Senatorial District
Contact: Jennifer Wilson