By G. Terry Madonna; Michael L. Young
It’s a trite but true political aphorism: “where you stand depends on where you sit,” meaning we tend to see things differently depending on what perspective we see them from.
If you're a Pennsylvania Republican, no matter where you “sit,” it’s hard to see what Gov. Corbett did with the 2014-15 budget as anything but a divisive, last-gasp effort to change perceptions of his leadership.
In case you missed it, Corbett, using most of his 10 days to sign or veto the 2014-15, state budget finally decided to do both. He signed it, but excluded about $72 million mostly earmarked for the legislature. This he excised with his line-item veto popularly known as “blue lining.” (A Pennsylvania governor cannot add appropriations to a budget passed by the legislature, but can selectively delete them.)
Corbett wiped out about 20 percent of the money intended to support the General Assembly plus some pet projects. (Before shedding a tear for the legislature be informed that it currently holds some $150 million in “reserve,” more than enough to get it through the year.
Corbett did this to “encourage” the legislature to return to Harrisburg to enact pension reform, his number one priority, and perhaps salvage his swiftly disappearing chances of re-election. (Ignore for the moment that voters don’t care that much about pension reform and list it as their fourth or fifth most important issue. It spoils the story if you worry too much about that.)
To be fair, Corbett was in a bit of a tight corner when the legislature delivered an on time budget sans pension reform. Facing a daunting re-election challenge, he needed some accomplishments.