It is the middle of September. Pennsylvania still does not have a budget for this fiscal year. Again. The proposal submitted by the House of Representatives (more than two months late) depends on using “excess” funds from special accounts — some of them protected — to fund the $2.4 billion gap between spending and revenue. In reality, these “excess” funds have been committed to local governments, nonprofit organizations and others for projects that have already been approved. This approach does nothing to address the systemic budget revenue shortfalls that have caused Pennsylvania’s credit rating to decline, which has cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars.
Imagine operating this way at your job. Your most important annual task is habitually done late and poorly. You would be fired, and rightly so!
Fortunately for legislators, they are almost impossible to fire because they get to pick their own bosses (voters)! According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, Pennsylvania is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. The politicians get to select who votes for them. When politicians feel safe about winning re-election, they can afford to ignore issues that citizens care about. Voters feel powerless, and voter turnout decreases.
Two bipartisan bills have been introduced, Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722, that would take redistricting out of politicians’ hands and put it into the hands of an independent citizens commission. Despite the fact that these bills have more than 100 co-sponsors from both parties, they are stuck in committee. Please contact your representatives and ask them why these two bills have not been brought to the floor for a vote. More information can be found at fairdistrictspa.com.