In my column today, I addressed the latest state budget impasse by asking area legislators these questions:
■ How has your household income been impacted by the budget impasse?
■ Are you facing crippling property tax hikes to fund school districts waiting on state funds?
■ Do you have a disabled or elderly family member who may be denied care? Or someone who provides that care but may face payless paydays?
■ Are you set for food? Do you rely on Meals on Wheels for nourishment and company? A soup kitchen? A food pantry?
■ Are you in an abusive relationship? Does your life depend upon finding a safe shelter for you and your kids?
■ Are you ashamed that you and your colleagues have yet again failed to fulfill the most basic responsibility of the Legislature? Or that as a result, scores of Pennsylvanians you swore an oath to serve may suffer until you get around to doing your jobs?
■ Shouldn’t you be?
The only legislator who answered my specific questions was Sen. John Blake, D-22. The only one who failed to respond at all was Rep. Frank Farina, D-Invenergy.
Space and lack of specificity made it impossible (not to mention pointless) to share the other responses. Here they are. Judge them for yourselves:
REP. SID KAVULICH, D-114: “Rest assured that I take my responsibilities as a state legislator very seriously and am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to serve the residents of the 114th legislative district. I expressed myself in your guest editorial on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 and clearly stated my views and reasons why I voted against the recently passed budget (which Gov. Wolf vetoed). We need a comprehensible budget that works for all of Pennsylvania, with sustainable and long-term revenues.
“I myself am exasperated with the overall budget process and impasse that exists causing unnecessary hardship on the residents of Pennsylvania. With this being said I stand steadfast and committed to passing a budget that protests the interest of all in a bi-participant manner.”
REP. MARTY FLYNN, D-113: “This isn’t about me or other legislators, it’s about the people we represent.I talk to them every day and am fully aware that many families rely on services that are funded by the state. So far, nobody has lost services but they will if a budget is not done soon.
Legislators of both parties need to get back to Harrisburg and get the job done.Also, to be clear, the legislative agenda is totally controlled by the Republican majority.”
REP. KAREN BOBACK, R-118: “The governor’s veto has created a situation in which Pennsylvania’s health and human service agencies, and the populations they serve, are in distress. I find it appalling that these agencies may be forced to take out loans in order to continue serving our most vulnerable populations. In the budget I voted for, these agencies were funded at an equal level or in excess of the governor’s budget proposal. Unfortunately, the veto of these line items has created a debacle for the state.”
REP. MIKE CARROLL, D-118: “The budget that was passed by House and Senate Republicans ignored two realities: Governor Wolf will have input on a budget agreement and budget gimmicks used recently will not be an option this year. When the majority party that controls the legislative calendar decides to work constructively with the Governor and all members of the General Assembly, there will be a budget approved. This constructive work should have been completed weeks ago.
“I look forward to the Republican leadership accepting the reality of the role Governor Wolf and Democrats in the House and Senate will have in this process. A late budget that includes reliable revenues and appropriate spending is better than the budget that mirrors budgets of the past four years. Those budgets were harmful to our school districts and non-profits and no thanks were given for their on-time passage.”
Mr. Carroll was first respond to my email. I thanked him but pointed out that his response didn’t directly address my questions.
“I believe it does,” he replied.