Did the state budget impasse just get resolved? | Blogh

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Did the state budget impasse just get resolved?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 3:27 PM

I'll admit for a moment just now, I thought the state must have wrapped up that whole budget mess, overnight.

True, I hadn't seen or heard anything about it from the governor's office, or the legislature, or other media outlets. But I couldn't figure out any other reason why State Sen. John Wozniak would be sending me a press release that began thusly: 


State Sen. John N. Wozniak today renewed his annual call to help mediate an agreement for Pitt and Penn State to resume their century old football rivalry. "I think the time has come for both school’s administrators and athletic directors to spare us the excuses and get this game back on the schedule," Wozniak said. "Again this year, I will offer to facilitate discussions leading to resuming this once-great football rivalry."

Right. Because you know what? Whenever I need to "facilitate discussions" in order to resolve endless bickering ... whenever I want to cut through the excuses and get stuff straigtened out and back on schedule ... you know who I call? A Harrisburg legislator.

My mind, it was a-reeling as I read the first few sentences of this release. But then I got a little farther down the text, where Wozniak allows that 

Pennsylvania’s legislature and governor have more important things to do. "Pennsylvania’s budget is nearly eight weeks late and this impasse threatens to devastate important government services statewide,” Wozniak said. "I am in no way saying that this football rivalry issue deserves to be a government priority or become a legislative issue"

So if this doesn't "deserve to be a government priority or become a legislative issue," why is Wozniak, a government legislator, issuing public statements about it? Apparently because "many people have urged ... that the state legislature step in and mandate that the schools resume their annual game."

Seriously? People have actually suggested that Harrisburg intervene in the college football schedule? Is there anyone out there who really believes that: a) this situation demands state intervention, and b) that state intervention would do anything except make things worse?

Because if the state interevened, I'll tell you what would happen: Pitt would play Penn State, all right, but somehow the winner would be a school in Philadelphia. 

This is one case where I'd like to think a politician is lying. I'd rather believe that Wozniak was just making up this business about getting pressure from constituents. But I have the nagging sense that he's telling the truth. 

Which in some ways makes it unfair to single out Wozniak, a Johnstown Democrat. As the release suggests, this is something he does every year. And of all the posturing that has taken place in Harrisburg over the past few months, this may be the least harmful example. It hasn't resulted in any state employees going without paychecks, at least. 

Still, if I was giving advice to a Harrisburg pol, I would say the following: "Do you want voters to be happy with you? Then this is what you should do until a budget gets passed: Shut. The. Hell. Up."