I am about to increase the scope of your vocabulary. The word, tsooris, is a Yiddish word for trouble. It is not all trouble, but a specific kind of trouble. It can be explained by the next description. Yesterday I bought a suit with two pairs of pants. Today I got a large rip in my jacket. That is what is meant by tsooris. It is something that is incalculably hard to fathom. That is what is going on in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania right now.
We are now in the last month of budget deliberations. Our revenue for this year is way behind in projections. There are one time dollars in our budget that will not reoccur next year. We are bereft in job creation (in December 2013 we lost more jobs than anyone other than New Jersey). Our administration in Harrisburg is befuddled by what has happened and our legislature is divided into factions. This is not to say that it is broken into Democrats and Republicans. It goes way beyond that.
We are a bicameral legislature- 203 members of the house and 50 senators. That just begins the consternation. The House and Senate don’t really seem to agree on anything. The Senate is controlled by the Republicans this time. They are pretty much united, although there are grumblings even there. The Democrats are not blessed by excessive leadership and seem to follow the ideas of the day.
The House is also controlled by the R’s. The Democrats also are led by those who must have been in charge of the Israelites during their forty year sojourn in the deserts. They don’t really know where they are going, but it is not following anyone. The administration needed Democratic votes to pass a transportation bill earlier in the year and they supported the Republican governor, even though he was not supported by the Republicans in the House.
The R’s in the House are split into many differing groups. There are moderates (no liberals), the reactionaries who want to go back to 1954 and want to make Newt Gingrich their king. There are the Tea Party activists who do not want to pass anything other than resolutions to put “In God We Trust” on every school building. Then thereare the crazies. In one sense, they are the most comfortable group in the legislature No one expects anything but bizarre things from them and that they do well.
So, we have many important pieces of legislation that the Governor has proposed. He has not gotten any of them through his own party’s legislature. He has even given up talking about selling the lottery to a Canadian group (from England) who represent teachers’ pension investments in Canada. He wanted to privatize the liquor stores. He wanted to give block grants to school districts so they would have to use the money in specific ways. He has not been able to fix the pension mess. This goes on and on and is making me sleepy.
His biggest supporters are outside the legislature. They are charter school enthusiasts who really want to make public education go away, who give him back taxpayer money to run his reelection campaign. There are also the Natural Gas producers who do not want a fee or a tax, as there are in all other states who have natural gas. They have piled on money to his political campaign. Even with this dough he is still 20 points behind in most polls.
The sad thing about all of this is that we are screwing our people in the Commonwealth. We need so many things to get done in education, welfare, economic development, and infrastructure and so on. None of these things will happen if we don’t get off the dime. The hall crawlers will have their hands full explaining to their clients why nothing has happened.