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Pennsy government shutdown brings no honor to state leaders

July 10, 2007

Shame on Pennsylvania's elected leaders, especially Gov. Ed Rendell.

Faced with a budget stalemate, instead of working it out, the governor furloughed more than 24,000 state employees, shut down a wide range of services and did some serious damage to the state's tourism effort.

According to The Associated Press, Rendell took action because under Pennsylvania law, if a budget isn't passed by the start of the new fiscal year, state officials can't spend money on nonessential services and nonessential employees' pay.

So what's so important that the governor and the legislature let matters come to this point?

The governor would like to raise the state's debt ceiling, even though Republican lawmakers say that the state has a $650 million surplus. And he would like to place a surcharge on electricity use that would be used to promote conservation and to explore alternative energy sources.

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These certainly seem like worthy goals, but consider all the energy wasted by those who drove for hours to camp in Pennsylvania's state parks, only to be told that they would have to return home.

Will they return to the Keystone State after this political battle is over or will the bad taste linger?

And how about those who need essential services, including driver's licenses. How much business will be lost because state residents can't get the documents they need?

But the governor and lawmakers ought to be most ashamed of what they've done to state employees.

Even if, as Rendell said, this is only a one-day furlough, the anxiety of not knowing what might happen is something that the workers shouldn't have to endure. End this stalemate now.

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