Friday File

October 02, 2015

On the Budget Impasse

Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he focused on giving the lecture of his life. Not dwelling for one second on his own mortality, he provided insights to his students and to his own children about the preciousness of life, and the things that really matter like honesty and integrity.

In his “last lecture,” Pausch also warned against getting bogged down in arguments and trivialities. “Engineering is not about perfect solutions. It is about doing the best you can with limited resources.”

Elected officials in Harrisburg are locked in a protracted ideological stand-off on the Commonwealth’s budget. There is little concern for the time that has slipped away or the actual budget deadline law that has been ignored. 

They may not be facing death, but legislators facing reelection would be well advised to follow Pausch’s lead. There is little rationality in clinging to party positions or ideologies when the goal should be to “do the best you can” for the people you serve.  If Democrats and Republicans are incapable of putting partisan pressures aside, they are placing their own interests above their constituents.

As the ancient Greeks noted: “If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.”

To those who think that the dysfunction has reached intractable levels, consider the words of Nelson Mandela who prevailed over withering odds: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”


Wolf calls for freezes as budget impasse continues

After Governor Wolf vetoed the stop-gap budget this week, he then imposed a hiring freeze and travel ban. The ban exempts positions that provide direct patient care, law enforcement, public safety, and corrections as well as revenue collections and revenue generating positions. The travel ban does not affect third party funded travel or travel that is necessary to a position.

While Republicans have said they’re against any broad-based tax increases, Republican leadership has said they’ll consider Governor Wolf’s tax increases. They’ve given him a week to collect enough votes to pass the measure and are planning to take it up in the House next week.  If Wolf can get enough votes to pass his plan, legislators say they’ll run his budget plan as well. If not, well, stay tuned for next week’s happenings…