Draconian Budget: Does PA Governor Tom Corbett Have A Heart?

PA - Harrisburg: Capitol Complex - photo by Wally Gobetz

Last month Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett introduced his new budget. He kept to his word by only offering spending cuts with no tax increases. But as usual when it comes to Republicans, their spending cuts will hurt the most vulnerable citizens. It is unacceptable to pledge ‘no tax increases’ and then move forward with cuts to services for the poor and elderly.

philly.com – Corbett budget seeks spending cuts, plans no tax hike

The spending blueprint for the fiscal year that begins July 1 echoed Corbett’s first budget proposal by slashing aid to colleges and scaling back programs for the poor, elderly, and disabled – while reducing corporate taxes as a route to job creation and adding some money for public schools.

The only thing positive in that summary is more money for schools. But if taxes are not being raised it’s simply redistribution. Somebody wins, somebody loses.

I live in PA, and no, I’d rather not see my taxes go up, but you know what bothers me more? Seeing good people get hurt by a conservative governor who apparently has little compassion. This is a prime example of how the Republican pledge of no tax increases hurts real people. We live in the wealthiest nation on the planet and we can’t find a way to balance budgets without draconian cuts to services for those less fortunate?

During the unveiling of his budget Corbett said, “Today I bring before you a budget grounded in difficult realities but framed in the optimism that we are solving our problems.” He continued, “Once again, revenues do not match mandated, escalating costs. That means we must continue the course bravely charted by this assembly in the year just passed.”

Bravely? There is nothing brave about a staunch refusal to raise taxes. It is callous and weak to pander to voters on taxes while hurting the poor and elderly with spending cuts.

In an article titled “Heartless cuts are impractical, too,” Ronnie Polaneczky tells Governor Corbett, “You’ll be hearing from a lot of frightened social-service advocates in the coming months about your draconian budget, which proposes $41 million in cuts to the worst-off Philadelphians – among them the homeless, the mentally ill and the intellectually disabled.”

Polaneczky’s article has insights into the people who will be hurt by these cuts. She writes about Dee, an advocate for the mentally disabled, who tells a story about a case where a son “lived with his mom, who was in her 80s. Last month, he was helping her get up the steps to her bedroom. She fell. She died. He sat with her for three days. He didn’t know what to do. Finally, he knocked on a neighbor’s door and said his mother was sick. The neighbor came over and found the body.” Polaneczky says, “Tragically, says Dee, the man had been on a waiting list – with 17,000 other intellectually disabled adults in Pennsylvania – to receive support services that might’ve provided him, at minimum, with a caseworker to manage his care. Had someone been checking on him, his mother might’ve been found in time to receive life-saving help.”

Later in the article, Polaneczky makes a great point about Governor Corbett’s pro-life stance. She addresses to Corbett, “Speaking of birth, you are pro-life, a passionate supporter of the annual March for Life event on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. You once told a group of marchers, ‘The pro-life movement has to keep reminding everyone that [fetuses] are living human beings.’ Is it only fetuses you fret over? Don’t you care what happens to them once they’ve left the womb?”

This is a point that is increasingly being made when critiquing the actions of many pro-life conservatives. It seems a disproportionate amount of their compassion is for the unborn, which apparently leaves little left over for the post-womb population.

Corbett’s budget is more of the same from Republicans. Get into office. Demonize government. Cut taxes for the wealthy. Cut spending for the vulnerable. Yeah, that about sums it up.


photo by Wally Gobetz


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