Editorial: Budget behavior, childish tantrums
We don’t have time for leaders to act like children.
The people we have elected are there to do a job. We might not like the job they do, but that’s why we get to shuffle the deck periodically.
What we didn’t do was send grown men and women to split off into their respective factions and snipe at each other like cliques in a junior high cafeteria.
The antics displayed Wednesday in the State Capitol — including Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, shouting and snarling at Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and the Democrats all walking out, is only the latest example.
That the fit-throwing came amid deadline budget negotiations is the most unsurprising aspect. The most surprising is probably that it ended in a budget passed on time. If there is anything that Harrisburg has proved itself unable to handle, it is the required passing of a spending plan by the June 30 deadline.
The 2019-20 budget is just the fourth in 16 years that wasn’t delayed. It has become a steadily uglier process.
It started with Gov. Ed Rendell’s inability to stick the landing, missing every budget he ever signed, whether by just two days or 101. Under Gov. Tom Corbett, it was better but he and the Legislature still missed the mark by 10 days in 2014.
The arm-wrestling has come to a head between Corman and Gov. Tom Wolf. The two parties have devolved into something unworkable. How can you get anything done when the parties have the mutinous obstinacy of kids unable to grasp the concept of compromise?
Children put off their homework until the last minute. Children throw tantrums when they get down to the wire. Children bend the rules to get the assignment “finished” without it really being “completed.” (Remember the year the budget was passed, technically, but they didn’t dig up the money to fund it for another four months?)
In those 12 tardy budgets, the politicians — in both parties — wasted their time and our money on fighting and foot-dragging. The total delay of all those budgets? It comes to 787 days. That’s the equivalent of two years, one month, three weeks and six days.
“This whole episode was unnecessary, and it just didn’t have to happen that way,” Fetterman said of Wednesday’s dust-up.
That sums up 16 years of childish behavior.