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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it any more!”

howardbealeIn a scene straight out of the classic movie, “Network,” elected officials from dozens of counties across Pennsylvania stood on Tuesday morning and declared, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it any more!”

Nevertheless, despite scattered calls for more radical solutions, members of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) formally approved a more measured approach to be heard on the state budget impasse. They’ll be making their case with local media, encouraging constituents to speak out, and contacting their state legislators directly to urge passage of a state budget that doesn’t worsen the financial burden on counties — leading to increased local real estate taxes.

Butler County Commissioner Jim Lokhaiser warned that the consequences of service cutbacks on child abuse victims, those in need of critical medical care and the elderly could be tragic. However, Commissioner Pam Tokar-Ickes from Somerset County pointed out that county leaders are traditionally unwilling to allow that to happen. “We are the only ones standing between the state budget impasse and a tragedy — and you know that none of us in this room could let that happen,” Tokar-Ickes pointed out. “We will continue to be that safety net.”

Armstrong County Commissioner Jim Scahill called on his colleagues from across the state to become fiercely aggressive with members of the state legislature, either individually or as a coalition. “We need to get in their faces,” he declared.

Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel suggested that CCAP members be proactive in suggesting what sources of revenue would be preferable to address the state’s budget gap and provide funds for services provided by counties under state mandates. “If we want to encourage a partnership with the legislature and the governor’s office, we should have our own suggestions on how the state will derive the necessary funds to pass on to our counties,” he noted.

Tom Ceraso, Westmoreland County Commissioner, pointed out that a bipartisan organization such as CCAP has great credibility with state leaders. “We are split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats, yet we pull together and take positions on issues and speak with a unified voice,” Ceraso said. “We’re not only setting an example for the legislature, but we are an organization that deserves their respect because, politically speaking, we are truly bipartsan.”

simmensCCAP members also heard an impassioned speech from Lance Simmens, an aide to Governor Ed Rendell. He reminded commissioners that they are in a unique position to affect the budget debate and hold state legislators accountable. While avoiding references to political parties, Simmens’ message was a clear reference to Republican leaders who oppose some of the governor’s proposals to solve the crisis.

“You may not realize how much power you have,” Simmens said. “You need to flex that muscle and hit them where it hurts, which is with the voters when they want to be re-elected.” Potter County Today

5 comments :

Anonymous said...

Why don't we hold Rendell accountable?

Boro-Boy said...

I agree. Have him begin by eliminating all the needless jobs he created for his cronies and financial supporters. The $95,000 job he created for his buddy Dan in Kersey should be number one!
Mike Fowler
Austin, PA

Anonymous said...

Well I guess if the tourism is going to take a hit by not receiving state funding as expected, we do not need a director that is receiving a 6 digit salary...that is right there big boy, appoint a friend to a positions that has been vacant for years, tourism has been doing just fine without this over paid guy!

Now the tourism money is shrinking from Harrisburg and we have to pay a director to over see what?!

Clean house...

Anonymous said...

I believe it was stated that the Pa. Wilds slush fund would continue
as it serves a larger area.You don't think Eddie would create this huge give away,appoint his buddy to oversee it,then scrap it?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do think he would, atleast in part...It would not be the first time he has appointed a good ole boy to a very good paid position and then have next to nothing to do to receive the pay checks...