(Here’s the meat)
State spending is largely driven by cronyism—giving jobs and contracts to friends and political allies, and using taxpayer funds for personal or political benefit. Examples include:
- Despite a state hiring freeze, Gov. Rendell has created a new position paying $95,002 plus benefits for former state Rep. Dan Surra.
- 501 state employees have been hired since the hiring freeze, including several over $100,000:
- a director of the Office of Economic Development at the Department of Banking, who will be paid $105,900 a year;
- a policy manager in Rendell’s executive offices, who will make $101,281 a year;
- a staff psychiatrist, staff physician and another position at the Department of Public Welfare, whose respective annual salaries are $128,529, $102,533 and $105,900;
- two officials at the Department of State who will be paid $100,086 and $125,103
- About $370,000 was spent to print and mail over 300,000 calendars from lawmakers, with no legislative value to constituents.
- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spent millions in lobbying against a Turnpike lease in Harrisburg and for the right to toll of I-80 in Washington, DC. While the Turnpike Commission was evaluated to be one of the most cost inefficient toll roads in the country and continues to award patronage jobs and give bond contracts to politically connected firms, they are laying off rank-and-file workers and increased tolls by 25% in January.
- While a ban on out of state travel was in effect, Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff went to Washington at taxpayer expense – in order to attempt to get a new job with the Obama administration.
A great deal of taxpayer funding is wasted on promoting government or elected officials, lost in fraud or abuse, or simply buried in hidden accounts and forgotten about. Examples Include:
- $20,000 spent to produce GroundhogDreams.com, a psychedelic video and website of a man dressed in a groundhog costume being hit by a car and dreaming of his shadow, to promote Groundhog Day. Officials responsible for this video dismissed the cost as “nothing” compared to their $11 million budget to promote tourism.
- The Auditor General found that as much as $200 million of Medicaid funding was being abused or spent fraudulently.
- The state owns 16,637 vehicles (this excludes all PennDOT vehicles) costing taxpayers $72 million annually, yet there is little monitoring of these vehicles, including tracking of who is driving them.
- Millions of dollars were awarded in bonuses to legislative staffers, many of whom worked on political campaigns, leading to numerous indictments and a multi-year investigation. An additional $4 million has been spent in legal fees to prevent additional charges.
- Despite these legislative expenditures, an internal audit of the General Assembly found there is $200 million in taxpayer funds appropriated to the legislature being held in reserve.
- A recent audit of PHEAA found:
- $62.5 million in legal and professional fees, including over $2.1 million in lobbying fees.
- $121 million for management salaries, including $6.4 million in bonuses.
Corporate welfare requires all taxpayers to pay higher taxes in order to give others a tax break or government aid. Elimination of corporate welfare in the state budget would reduce taxes on citizens by $1.7 billion. Examples include:
- Over $35 million in proposed taxpayer-backed bailout loans were promised to department store chain Boscov’s, in spite of a record $26 million profit in December alone.
- $44 million in “Recreation, Conservation Projects” including:
- $45,200 to the Forest County Snowmobile Club for snow grooming equipment.
- $142,500 for “workshops and technical assistance related to planting trees and shrubs as buffers along streams.”
- $45,000 for the development of boat launches and access along the Beaver and Shenango rivers.
- $15.6 million Investment in Tourism Promotion including:
- $100,000 to the Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners Association to promote golfing in Pennsylvania.
- $100,000 to the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association for the development and promotion of SkiPA.com.
- $75,000 to the Pennsylvania Winery Association for the promotion of Pennsylvania’s wine trails.
- $50,000 for development of the Pennsylvania Culinary Society.
- $553,000 through the Small Business Advantage Grant Program to 92 companies, including:
- $61,505 for “high-efficiency washing machines” for laundromats.
- $137,284 for “high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment.”
- Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) received $4.6 million which included a $925,000 grant, $2.5 million in “infrastructure development program funding,” $1.05 million in tax credits and $100,000 in job training assistance.
- $325,000 to buy dairy cattle and milking parlor equipment (to the J&J Dairy Farm in Myerstown).
- $150,000 loan to purchase a 61-acre poultry farm in Richfield.
- $200,000 loan to purchase a 108-acre farm for a dairy and hog farm in Peach Bottom.
Novitas Capital LP, based in Wayne, received $4 million through the Venture Capital Investment Program.
See what I mean about special interests being favored and what I mean when I say the government is wasteful?
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Neither I nor the Libertarian Party thinks anybody should burn up their brain with drugs. With that said, do you remember the section on Why Libertarian where I said “Just because you believe that another’s action is either wrong or even harmful to that individual is not a sufficient reason to stop him should he choose to continue on the path he has chosen.”? I take this belief seriously.
Nevertheless, as I also said I don’t believe “anybody should burn up their brain with drugs.” For this reason, I would favor spending taxpayer money to run a television campaign pointing out the dangers of drug use. I also believe one required course in school should be about the “evils of drugs.”
After all of this, if an individual still chooses to use drugs, he or she should be free to do so. That individual should also understand that the penalties for injuring any other person are extremely severe, up to and including life in prison. I would also extend this to stealing money to pay for the drugs.
A word about medical marijuana. If you have ever known anybody who was suffering from cancer or another serious disease, you also know somebody who may benefit from medical marijuana. I have and that individual could only ease the pain by using it. Did he know it was illegal? Of course, but is it better to be a criminal or in constant pain?
Several states have passed legislation making its use legal. There is a bill currently going through the state legislature to make this legal in Pennsylvania a well. I would favor it passing.
There is probably no one issue upon which Libertarians are more divided. Just like the general public, some are pro-life and some are pro-choice. My own position is that I am “abortion neutral”.
What I am saying is that there should be no laws at either the state or federal level concerning abortion. The decision should be made between the woman, her spouse and her God. But there should also be no government funding to pay for this as well.
There are some doctors who would prefer not to perform abortions. Again this should be a personal choice and doctors must not be required to against their own moral choices.
Straight Party Voting
Straignt party voting makes for an uninformed public voting straight party simply beause "My daddy was a Republican (or Democrat) and so am I." If you asked what they stand for the response wouls probably be, "I don't kow."
There are only sixteen states* that permit this draconian practice. As recently as 1960 over half of the staes allowed Straint Party voting. It is gradually being recognized that that it leads to voter apathy, is unconstitutional according to the consititutions of most states, and is unfair it independent and minor party candidates. Thus most states have chosen to eliminate the option. If elected, I plan to introduce a bill to eliminate it in Pennsylvania. Then there will only be fifteen.
* As of 2002
State and Local Taxation
The state permits school boards, boroughs and municipalities to increase taxes without a vote of the public. To my knowledge there are only two other states that follow this system. I plan to introduce a bill to stop this. Because this would be impractical at the state level, many states are considering laws to require a, so-called, super majority (2/3s) vote by both the house and the senate to raise taxes at the state level. This also, would be a bill I would introduce. Most tax increases should only be by referendum.
Senate Bill 621 (House Bill 1443) is legislation that would bar the commonwealth's participation in Real ID. It still hasn’t made it out of committee. To date 14 states have opted out of this invasive program. With extensions, states have until May of 2011 to say they will not participate in the program. We’ll keep you posted on what happens in Pennsylvania.