Regardless of who wins this race, the next governor is going to face some monumental issues.
Our current governor has increased the state budget about 45% since taking office 8 years ago. In all of that spending increase, not once, not ever were the problems our teachers' and state employees' pension funds face ever addressed. In Fat Eddy's defense, he was not the first to ignore the looming tsunami that will hit us in the next few years. That said, I find it incredulous that the cost of running this state increased 45% under his watch. I ask you all, has your income risen 45% in the past 8 years? Has any cost of running your household risen 45% in the past 8 years? I didn't think so. The question that has been bandied about (especially on my friend Gort42's blog) is "What realistic cuts can be made to his budget?" I think the answer lies in what he increased spending on.
With tolls shot down on I80, reliance on $2.7 billion of one time stimulus money, and a now projected $525 million budget shortfall for this year's budget, the problems are increasing geometrically. The sad fact that so many of our 8 bagillion legislators are going along with this ride of the rails plan is nothing short of them asking to be booted out of office. One question begs to be asked of every single one of them; What the fook do we do next year??? And that doesn't even take into account the pension problem or the fact that Pa. is one of 38 states now that has a bankrupt unemployment compensation fund. More on that in a moment. The reason all those far too numerous legislators are going along is that this is an election year and as we all know, the most important job those animals have is to get re-elected. They will do nothing that they perceive to threaten their chances. For that reason alone (as if their weren't enough others), I say boot them out and demand a vast reduction in their number. Enough is enough!!!! I don't care what party or political belief you subscribe to, any candidate that doesn't specifically support a reduction does NOT deserve a single vote.
Back to the unemployment compensation fund. You read that correctly, there are now 38 states that have zero dollars left in that fund. I know what you are thinking; How is it possible for that to be true if unemployment is hovering around 10%? The fact is, it isn't. Unemployment numbers are far higher than the media reports. The real numbers, we will probably never know but the simple fact of 38 states' unemployment funds being bankrupt points to a number at least double 10% and probably even higher than that. Think about that for a few minutes and see if you like the direction America has taken since 2006. I sure don't and as a matter of fact it worries me about the future of this great nation.
The next governor of Pa will be forced to address these issues and the reality is that no matter which party wins, we, the taxpayers, are going to lose. Taxes will have to be raised and our elected handjobs in Harrisburg are going to have to cut their spending. One thing that they can do to cut spending occurred to me as I was driving through a construction zone on I81. I know this is a crazy idea but bear with me. Instead of one guy working and 4-8 supervisors making sure he uses the shovel correctly, let's have 4-7 guys working and only one guy supervising. Crazy, I know, but every other workforce has more workers than supervisors so I am thinking that they may be onto something. Another way (besides reducing the largest legislature in the known universe) is to renegotiate the not just unbelievable but unconscionable pension deals we offer to retiring legislators (think Bob Mellow), teachers, and other state employees. I am sure there are quite a few ways they can cut spending but these jumped right out at me.
How and how much will taxes have to be raised? The how is debatable. The how much will depend on how much spending they can chop out of the budget. Suffice to say, taxes are going up in the keystone state and it won't be a small amount. I have heard Tom Corbett talk about some of these issues. I want to hear more, not just from him but from anybody running for state office and I include in that all the incumbents. I am sure there will be some debates and I am hoping our now famous local bloggers will not just ask those questions but not take the old round-about circle jerk for an answer.