Framing the Dialogue

I Bequeath To Thee…

We’ve all sat through long, boring speeches by nameless people who are on their way out of office, high school, the working class, etc.  A timeless tradition is to bequeath something to those who will follow in their footsteps.  These “gifts” are sometimes funny and often touching and depending on the closeness of those assembled accompanied by a good dose of tears followed by hugging.

President Clinton’s White House staff has the distinction of perhaps the pettiest actions of an outgoing office holder.  It was widely reported that his staff stole everything that wasn’t nailed down including all of the “W” from the computer keyboards.  His successor, in case you didn’t know, used his middle initial to differentiate himself from his famous father.  You can still see many cars with their “W” stickers.

Pennsylvania’s soon-to-be x-governor Ed Rendell has taken this to a new level.  Pennsylvania thankfully has term limits on the occupation of the Governor’s Mansion so Rendell has to move out this January.  His legacy is a projected $4.5 BILLION deficit for this fiscal year (the one we’re in and it nearly half over).  Were it not for federal stimulus money plugging some gaps, this figure would be much worse.

Facing such a daunting budget deficit, Rendell has been trying to, ____________ (reduce spending, streamline government processes to attract business, reduce tax rates so folks have more of their money to use, increase spending).  Unfortunately for Pennsylvanian’s future the answer is increase spending.  Rendell has been pushing very hard for a BILLION dollar bond initiative to fund projects…primarily his pet projects.

The bond will allow him to spend a great deal of money and pass the bill along to his successor and his successor and most likely his successor as the period for these bonds is usually twenty years.  Pennsylvania’s Auditor General estimated that it would cost taxpayers roughly $82 million every year for the next two decades (total price tag at $1.6 Billion).  The good news is that the Pennsylvania legislature has not been very cooperative.  They seem to want the bond; they are leery about the amount.  The final number looks like it will be closer to a paltry $700 million. 

What will Pennsylvanian’s get (besides the bill) for Rendell’s excessive spending;

  •  A rumored John Murtha “museum”
  • A rumored Arlen Spector “museum” (probably just featuring his Democrat years)
  • A $4.5 million for a parking garage
  • $2.5 million to convert a small downtown Pittsburgh parking lot into an urban park with “a water feature and premier restaurant opportunity”
  • A $5 million, 133-acre brownfield site competing with dozens of other industrial sites all advertising the same thing: “Vacancy.”
  • $32 million to help renovate and expand the Louis J. Tullio Arena in Erie (no major sports team plays there).
  • A $45 million bailout to enable the Allegheny County Port Authority (“PAT”) to postpone chronic funding problems to another day and another administration. That’s in addition to $184 million in state operating subsidies already going to PAT.
  • A massive $72 million, three-tiered interchange at Routes 51 and 119, just north of Uniontown.  (I frequently travel through this area and am aghast at this project’s complexity and now its cost for a level of traffic that has to be quite small – everytime I pass this monstrosity I grumble about the waste of money in hard economic times).

what a legacy.

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