At first glance, one might take State Senate Majority Leader Jake Cormanac’s (R., Centre County) remedy for Pennsylvania’s impending 2017/2018Â budget shortfall as good news. After all, he said, “we’ve got to look within and see what we can do to maximize our abilities with the assets that we have.” A reasonable person might conclude that our State’s legislative leadership had finally come to its senses and decided to tax the gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale.Â In actuality, however, Sen. Corman was referring to the possibility of floating a bond issue against future proceeds from the 1998 national tobacco settlement. (http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/06/how_smokers_could_smokers_help.html).
There are at least two problems with such a solution. The first has to do with the cigarette proceeds themselves. Currently these proceeds are used to subsidize various types of health and residential services for the most vulnerable citizens in Pennsylvania: the elderly, the impoverished, and the disabled. Pennsylvania is the sixth oldest state in America, with 60 – 79 year olds being its fastest growing age cohort. Eliminating vital programs for such a significant demographic is no way to balance a budget. (http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/01/why_is_pennsylvanias_budget_ou.html)
The second problem is that bond issues are normally used for capital projects, like building bridges, or replacing out-of-date water lines. To use a bond issue to settle an operating budget deficit is like using your credit card to make a mortgage payment. It is based upon the same logic as check kiting and Ponzi schemes. You can get away with such tactics in the short run, but in the long run, the creditors will catch up with you. Many of these legislators are gambling with the notion that they can keep the creditors at bay until they retire from office.Â Turn PA Blue would like to see these legislators’ retirements happen sooner rather than later.
In order to achieve this goal, Neighborhood Networks has pledged to work in three PA House Districts — 146 (Limerick Township, Lower Pottsgrove Township, Perkiomen Township, Pottstown, Royersford, Trappe), 151 (Horsham Township, Lower Gwynedd Township, Montgomery Township, Upper Dublin Township), and 170 (Northeast Philadelphia).
District 170 is currently represented by Martina White. Several people have expressed an interest to campaign in the 170th, and we are working with the Dems there to start canvassing this summer. I will keep you posted. I will also keep you posted on opportunities in the 146th, 151st, and other districts as well. This coming Sunday, there will be a canvass in Chesterbrook, where District 157 will be a contested race in 2018.