Working night and day and weekends too, the crack researchers at rockthecapital.com have stumbled onto an amazing political scoop: Governor-elect General Tom Corbett’s series of handwritten Post-it Notes detailing his master plan to cut $5 billion in state spending, and balance Pennsylvania’s next budget.
While the sticky has rubbed off some of these scribbled plans for slashing state services, selling the state parks and sending thousands of state workers to the unemployment line, two major items remain stuck to the General’s fridge. As a public service, we offer a first look.
Like his erstwhile Democratic opponent, the much-misspelled Dan Oronatoronatorona, General Tom is from western Pennsylvania. So it’s no surprise that a major part of his budget plan will involve containing or eliminating that financial sinkhole in the east known as the City of Brotherly Thugs.
The General’s plan is stunning in its simplicity:
1. Saw off Philadelphia, then
2. Float it over to New Jersey, and
3. Sell it to the Sopranos.
Corbett’s transition team reportedly has been in touch with several Philly contractors on the Friends of Ed list. The general consensus: “You got duh money, no problem.”
Not only would this extreme surgery solve some major educational and transportation headaches ($$) associated with Philadelphia, it would be a great start to the redistricting season for the General’s GOP pals. You don’t have to gerrymander districts that aren’t there.
Which is also the genius part of the General’s second big idea: eliminating a lot of electoral districts in a newly constituted General Assembly.
With a staff of 3,000 and an annual budget of $300 million, the Pennsylvania legislature qualifies as the most expensive adult daycare center in America. Senators and Reps accomplish pretty much nothing year after year.
(They can’t even pass a law to keep drivers from texting while driving, something that will get you pulled over in neighboring states.)
So now even the man most likely to become the new speaker of the House, Sam Smith, is talking about downsizing the legislature. Over in the Senate, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi agrees.
Like breaking up the state’s liquor monopoly, cutting down the Legislature has been a gleam in many a governor’s eye. What’s different now? The General’s need for speed.
Corbett has tied us to the railroad tracks with his campaign promises of no new taxes, or fees, or whatever. The Deficit Express is coming down the line, and the General is all cuts, all the time.
Given the circumstances, it makes sense to dump the legislature and go with the leadership. They’re the only ones who know what’s in the bills they pass.
Imagine the cost savings of going from 253 full time legislative salaries to a new General Assembly consisting of just dozen or so – the big dogs from the House and Senate. Let ’em keep their per diem and their Walking Around Money.
Then the other 240 or so legislator-drones can go back home and man the district offices, at minimum wage. These fine public servants can perform the vital work of taking requests for proclamations and license plates and forwarding them on to the capital. Would anyone notice the difference?
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