Last week Tom Wolf took the oath of office in Harrisburg to become the 47th governor of Pennsylvania. His inaugural speech was characterized by three simple goals: jobs that pay, schools that teach and government that works. If he can achieve that, Pennsylvania will be a better place in four years. But, it’s going to take compromise.
You see, when voters went to the polls in November while ousting the GOP governor, they also increased the majorities held by Republicans in the legislature. This means there are two possibilities for the next few years, gridlock or compromise.
The daunting budget picture, a $2 billion deficit is the elephant in the room (or if you prefer, donkey). But every challenge provides a chance for people to grow, and that’s what Harrisburg needs. Everyone has some ideologies from which they don’t want to back down, but a pragmatic approach to the issues of this era will be necessary to avoid partisan gridlock in our divided government.
So looking ahead, what should be some no-brainers for our folks in Harrisburg? It’s pretty simple.
First, continue the reform movement. Wolf did this for the executive branch on day one. The legislature should follow suit and ban all gifts. Put it in statute, the pay to play days of Harrisburg’s past must be gone for good.
Secondly, funding for education must be addressed. Republican or Democrat, rural or urban, there must be a funding formula enacted so that all children receive a high-quality education, not just children in wealthy districts. Quality, well-funded education that does not discriminate must happen now.
Third, Pennsylvania must continue to find ways through which it can attract well-paying, family-sustaining jobs. Perhaps that’s through lowering the corporate tax rate, but only if that means closing loopholes and ending political cronyism. Or maybe it means increasing the minimum wage so low earners grow their disposable income, causing the Pennsylvania economy to grow as well.
There’s a lot of good some common sense can do. Taxpayers and voters really don’t care how many bridges get renamed or who the governor appoints as the new head of the Open Records Office.
What they’re looking for are results. Hopefully the Wolf administration and the legislature can work together to give the voters and taxpayers what they want. I mean, it’s a no-brainer, right?