We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Tim, who along with Eric Epstein and Gene Stilp was honored by Pennsylvania Common Cause on Saturday with presentations of the CCPA Public Service Achievement Award. All three gentlemen are richly deserving of such recognition. Please visit the CommonCausePA website to see the details.
Democracy Rising PA News
July 25, 2006
In this issue:
- Tick, Tick, Tick
- What’s Up with PEL?
- When a Cut is not a CutTick, Tick, Tick
- Days since the pay raise of 2005: 384
- Days until Election Day: 104
- Roadmap reforms enacted: 0What’s Up with PEL?
Advocates for greater integrity in state government were stunned last week by the announcement that the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) has appointed Rep. Steve Stetler (D-York) as its new executive director.
PEL is an “independent, nonprofit public policy research and development organization” headquartered in Philadelphia. The mission of the business-oriented group “is to promote better government for a more competitive region.” http://www.peleast.org/.
PEL’s Republican-dominated board of directors looks like every politician’s dream contributor list. http://www.peleast.org/webboardlist.pdf. But the appointment of a Democrat is not surprising. Stetler replaces Karen Miller, who served as Secretary of Community Affairs under Dem. Gov. Robert P. Casey. The appointment of Democrats to leadership posts allows PEL to demonstrate its non-partisan nature. Plus, Stetler has a reputation as a genuinely smart and nice guy whose family has owned a Dodge dealership in York for generations, giving him a business credential that doesn’t hurt.
What troubles integrity advocates is that Stetler voted for the pay raise, took $9,188 in “unvouchered expenses,” voted to repeal the raise but refused to repay the extra cash, and claims to have given the extra pay to charities but won’t say which ones. As a result, York Daily Record reporter Richard Fellinger writes in today’s edition, Stetler stands to get a $2,000-a-year increase in his pension, raising his pension from nearly $62,000 a year to $64,000. http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_4092352.
Perhaps it’s the Philadelphia focus of PEL that explains its apparent indifference to Stetler’s record on one of the most significant Constitutional and political issues of our time. The pay raise never was as big deal in Philadelphia as in other parts of Pennsylvania.
When a Cut is Not a Cut
The skeptics were right. As reported in the July 11 DR News, the House and Senate actually cut their budget for this year compared to last year. Skeptics argued that although they may have cut the budget, they won’t be cutting spending; they’ll just dip into their (our) $180 million in reserves.
Harrisburg Patriot Capitol Bureau Chief Jan Murphy’s Sunday story, (click here) quotes Mike Long, a top aide to outgoing Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer as saying, “I think there's an obvious interest in holding our spending as tightly as possible. By spending down reserves, we're not appropriating additional funds.”
The huge reserves continue to trouble integrity advocates. The $180 million are nearly two-thirds of the $297 million in the combined House and Senate budgets for this year. Reserves are unheard of for most state offices. Nearly everyone else in state government must return unused funds to the State Treasury at the end of the year.
Legislators argue that they need extra funds in case the governor vetoes their budgets. But since lawmakers can override a veto and get their budgets anyway, this reason is unconvincing.
In fact, the reserves are a source of mischief. They were used to pay the infamous and unconstitutional “unvouchered expenses” last year. They also are used as part of a system of rewards and punishments that keep rank-and-file lawmakers under the thumb of the leaders, who brought us the unconstitutional pay raise and many other unconstitutional enactments in recent years.
How does spending reserve funds qualify as holding down spending?
Tim Potts, Co-FounderP.O. Box 618,Carlisle, PA 17013717-243-8570
Hello? Mr. Stetler, I would wager, claimed that gift to charity on his Income Tax! He has no option other than to return the money, with interest NOW!
Mr. Maitland found out the hard way that his constituents don’t like paying his way through law school, especially without being asked! He has no choice other than to PAY THE MONEY BACK NOW! And don’t forget the interest! I'll bet he claimed the tuition on his tax return, too!
Our thanks, as ever, to Tim Potts for keeping the heat on these thieves. And let us not mince words any more: they are thieves! Crooks! And they should be prosecuted for stealing from the tax payers of the Commonwealth!
We support Russ Diamond for Governor!
We support the Roadmap to Reform!“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST
"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein
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