Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pennsylvania: State of Deficit

And reformers who promised reform of themselves, but have yet to deliver...

Net the Truth Online

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue released the December revenue collections showing state General Fund revenues are $815 million short for the fiscal year to date.

STILP: Where will change come from?

Commentary on the New Legislative Session

By Gene Stilp, Coordinator, Taxpayers and Ratepayers United, Inc.

The new Pennsylvania legislature will be sworn in on January 6, 2009. That is exactly three and one half years since the 2005 legislative pay raise started the outside effort to reform a rogue legislature. Most of the fifty-five new members who promised reform last session took as much as they could get their hands on as soon as they said “I promise to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution.” Health care, cost of living increases, wams, cars and per diems were gobbled up like free candy.

Then the legislature reached a new low with the Bonusgate scandal. Millions of taxpayer dollars in bonuses for campaign work and millions of taxpayer dollars spent on outside law firms for legal defenses before the Grand Juries. A dozen were indicted and many more will probably take that walk very soon.

Last session ended with a failing grade. Outside reform groups had to fight for every inch of change and in the end the reforms could be counted on a few fingers.

Even with twenty-eight new members, this new session does not promise much and the legislature still doesn’t realize that hundreds of millions of dollars in slush funds must go. Although the Legislative Accounting Committee presented simple balance sheets, a real audit has never been done for the more than one billion dollars in taxpayer funds that have passed through the legislature during the past three and one half years. The only hope for a true understanding of what happened to all the money will be if the Attorney General pieces together a forensic audit as part of the Bonusgate investigation.

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