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Budget Address Short on Specifics

Governor Tom Corbett used former president George W. Bush's speechwriter to tweak his recent budget address. The comments from State AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder indicate this may have been why, to them, the address sounded more like a campaign speech and less like a budget address.

Privatization of Pennsylvania's liquor stores, reforming pensions were again part of the speech, and both were met with criticism from Secretary-Treasurer Snyder:

". . . once again, he is proposing privatization of Pennsylvania’s wine and spirits, characterizing it as the ‘last call’ of the final year of his first term as Governor. His ‘last call’ destroys 5,000 family sustaining jobs in a public system that protects our communities. We support modernization of the current system, which protects working families, will create more good jobs, and will further improve convenience and prices for the consumers. It also will generate more revenue that will benefit taxpayers and promote safe and responsible consumption. . . ”

"The Governor’s proposal to eliminate defined benefit pensions will balloon the unfunded liability by an additional $40 billion. We support increasing revenues by closing the loopholes and the tax giveaways our Governor succeeded in passing over his previous budget cycles. This will give our school districts the funding they need to prevent additional layoffs and to meet their pension obligations to their workers."

But there were some positives to be found as well. President Bloomingdale said that the Governor appears to be making an admission that his cuts to education and human services harmed the state, and that he is making an effort to make small amends. President Bloomingdale also acknowledged the Governor's acknowledgement of the need to invest in infrastructure and training. But also pledged to oppose proposal that would lower wages and living standards.

Saturday, February 8, brought State Democrats to Hershey for their State Committee Meeting. While State Treasurer Rob McCord won the majority of votes. He fell short of the the 214 needed for a formal endorsement.

The January 30 edition of WITF's Smart Talk provided an opportunity for AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman a chance to refute the arguments made by Lancaster County Republican Bryan Cutler, the main sponsor of House Bill 1507, the "paycheck protection" bill. Rep Cutler claimed that the bill is about getting the State out of the business of collecting political money, but Director Fillman pointed out that the bill as it stands singles out unions. House Bill 1507 has still not moved past the referral stage.