Legislative gobbledygook: Say what?
If the Pennsylvania Legislature wants to do the public it supposedly serves a major favor when it returns from summer recess — other than forswearing naked corruption, that is — eliminating the kinds of unbecoming disbursement games it plays would be a good place to start.
As the Trib's Brad Bumsted reported on Tuesday, a bill voted on in the Senate this week employed quite vague language to disburse millions of public dollars. And as the Commonwealth Foundation's Nathan Benefield notes, it's by design to bypass best-government practices.
To wit, legislation required to enact the new state budget directs, in part, $3 million to an unnamed hospital in a third-class city in a county classified as “2nd-class A,” Mr. Bumsted reports. And an unnamed community college would get $500,000 in “a county of the fourth class with a population between 175,000 and 190,000.” And the gobbledygook goes on and on.
Mr. Benefield says such earmarking, in addition to making the public work too hard to discover how its money is being spent, serves to subvert the competitive grant process. But Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House GOP, defends the practice, if not the linguistic gymnastics: Recipients are not specified for legal reasons to avoid the scarlet “S” — generally disallowed “special legislation.”
Yeah, we're scratching our heads over that non sequitur, too.
Representative government requires transparency. Translucence doesn't cut it.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- The Thursday wrap
- James Foley, 1973-2014: Fighting on
- Recasting the EPA: Devolving power to the states
- School funding canard: Money isn’t the answer