Full-time flop: In June, the Legislature punts on the big issues

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The $23.8 billion budget proposed by House Republicans last week was $110 million short of the amount Gov. Tom Corbett put forward in the plan he unveiled in February. That's not all that was missing.

The House blueprint does not incorporate three major initiatives under discussion that come with big revenue impacts: the new transportation funding package, the end of the government liquor monopoly and reform of the public employee pension system. All three issues are before the Legislature and all three have been crying out for resolution for years.

Yet legislative leaders -- essentially the Republicans who run the House and the Senate -- are saying action on these measures won't come in time for the 2013-14 budget, which must be enacted by July 1.

With a full-time, full-paid, 253-member Legislature that costs the taxpayers more than $300 million a year, that's unconscionable.

What's worse is that the same party controls both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor's office. Historically, it's the Republicans' moment. Can't they agree on anything?

So here it is, the third June in Tom Corbett's term as governor, and his party will nibble at the budget's edges, come to terms on spending and pass a plan that is balanced. Then they'll act as if they're Superman after saving the planet from doom.

Meanwhile, the recommendations from the Corbett transportation spending commission have yet to become law. The governor's prudent overhaul of the state retirement system, a costly crisis the Legislature wimped out on in its 2010 "reform," is still looking for votes. And Pennsylvania's official state antique, the government-run liquor system, still hasn't found its way into the hands of private enterprise -- even when the party of private enterprise is fully in charge.

It's a sad state of affairs and it makes you wonder if gridlock would be worse -- but, wait, that's what this is. Except in Harrisburg it's one party, not two, that can't get the big things done.

opinion_editorials


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