Saturday, July 4, 2015

Playing Games With Our Children’s Future: A Pennsylvania Budget Parable

by Steven Singer, member of the BAT Leadership Team and PA BATs

originally posted on his blog:


So let’s say I have this friend.

Let’s call her Ellie.

Ellie borrowed my car last week without my permission. She went off-roading and flattened all my tires.

So I’m understandably mad at Ellie, but we’ve been friends for a long time. In fact, we have plans to go on a road trip next weekend.

So I tell Ellie I’m not going to go with her unless she pays for new tires.

Sounds fair, right? And she agrees.

Well the day of the trip arrives, and Ellie shows up with my car. We tow it to the garage and the auto technician puts on brand new Michelins.

I turn to Ellie and say, “May I please have money for the tires now?”

She says, “Yeah. I already paid for them. I filled up the car with gas before we got here.”

“Wait a minute!” I reply. “You promised to pay for new tires!”

“I did,” she reassures me. “I used the tire money to fill up the tank.”

“But the technician still needs money for the tires?”


“Do you have any extra money to pay him with?”

“No. And you should be thanking me. I filled up the entire tank. It was on empty. I gave you more tire money than I’ve ever given you before. I’m not giving you another penny.”

Do you have a friend like Ellie?

Well everyone in Pennsylvania does. As the license plate used to say, “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania,” and her name is Ellie. Ellie Phont.

She’s your Republican party, everyone!

And she’s been pulling shit like this for years.

She slashes money for public schools but pays for pensions. And she’s suddenly thinks she increased school funding!

It was the common refrain under Gov. Tom Corbett, and tax payers liked it so much we rode him out of town on a rail.

Now we have a new Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, but the state House and Senate are still overflowing with Ellies!

In 4 years, Corbett and his GOP legislature slashed almost $1 billion a year from K-12 public schools. We lost 25,000 teachers70% of schools cut staff and increased class size. Kids lost music, arts, sports, extra curriculars, nurses, councilors, etc.

So this year, Wolf suggested we put that money back. Ellie refused.

Instead, she suggested adding $120 million. Not bad, but not nearly what she and Corbett sliced out of our children’s education.

Unfortunately, Ellie is still being Ellie.

Of that $120 million, $87 million would go to Social Security and $25 million would go to pension obligations.

Schools would get just enough to give every public school student in the Commonwealth a whooping 3 extra cents a year!

Oh Ellie! It’s the tires all over again!

Well, Gov. Wolf isn’t putting up with her crap. He vetoed the budget she passed.

In addition, it’s a budget that:
  • creates a $3 billion deficit.
  • doesn’t tax natural gas drillers (something every other state abundant in gas does.)
  • offers no property tax relief.
Poor Ellie. She looks so sad. How could she have known mean old Gov. Wolf would ruin her fun (Except that he told her he would do this if she tried anymore of her nonsense)?

So she turns to all her friends – all her friends in Pennsylvania.

With tear streaked eyes she cries about how much money she wanted to add to schools. She cries about how much her typical Ellie schemes would help the Commonwealth.

Now that the budget’s been vetoed, Ellie will have to come back to work on her vacation. She’ll have to sit down with Wolf and come to some sort of compromise.

And the taxpayers? We’re in the same position as the hypothetical narrator above with the busted tires.

Are we going to let Ellie get away with just filling up the tank? Or are we going to force her to do what’s right and pay for those darn tires she destroyed!?

It’s up to you, Pennsylvania.

But I, for one, am tired of her bullshit.

If you’re state representative or senator is an Ellie, please get on the phone, send an email, and/or make an appointment to tell her to stop playing games with our children’s future.

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