HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)– If you were to give the state legislature a grade for what it has accomplished thus far, at best it would be incomplete at worst an F. A new governor, new house leadership and a new legislative dynamic have led to dysfunction at the capitol.
Capitol paralysis has been a problem in Washington D.C. as it struggles to elect a speaker and that’s a thing. But it’s also plaguing our state capitol and as someone once said, if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.
“I’m a business owner,” Senator Chris Gebhard (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York) said.
Gebhard’s been a state senator for more than two years and owned an insurance agency for more than two decades.
“When you come from the world, you know, business world, you what we do is we identify problems,” Gebhard said. “You craft solutions and you implement them.”
Which is why he’s so frustrated in capitol world.
State budget, due June 30 not done. Penn State, Pitt and Temple would have appreciated their funding by June 30, but that’s not done. Moving the date of next year’s primary, not exactly legislative heavy lifting, failed.
“Now we’re in a position where no one’s allowed to win,” Gebhard said. “You know, we have two sides of the building and no one’s allowed to win.”
The Democrat-controlled House is passing bills. The Republican-controlled Senate passed bills. Not negotiated, and not going anywhere.
“This is the chronic mismanagement that we’ve seen since the beginning of session from the House Democrats,” State Rep. Bryan Culter (R) said.
Republicans blame Democrats and vice versa.
“The simple fact of the matter is we have a Senate who’s never had to consider what a Democratic House might want to do,” State Rep. Emily Kinkead (D Allegheny County) said. “And they’re running face-first into that.”
A rare success, bipartisanship around breast cancer screenings. But if the hope was women making history as leaders of both chambers would get stuff done. Well. Not yet.
“I think what you’re seeing is a result of party, not gender,” Cutler said.
Inaugural goodwill has become bad blood over a broken deal on school vouchers.
Governor Josh Shapiro could use his bully pulpit to force leaders to the budget table but some suspect he won’t because that would draw attention to the fact it’s mostly but not completely done.
“The governor is trying to avoid the fact that he is lacking the leadership to get his house Democratic caucus in line, to truly get down to the work and finish this budget process,” State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) said.
This inactivity is not inexpensive. This year, the Senate will cost more than $132 million, the House more than $241 million. Combined that’s more than $374 million, which is more than a million bucks a day. Every day. Which drivers our business guy batty.
“I would say we are in a broken building right now,” Gebhard said.
“At some point, the adults in the room are going to have to speak up and they’re going to have to move forward,” State Rep. Steve Malagari (D-Montgomery) said. And when asked who those “adults” were…
“I’ll leave that to myself,” Malgari said.
Here’s a sobering reality. If these folks can’t get little stuff done and right now they can’t. How are they supposed to fix big things like a chronically inequitably funded public school system?