In Case You Missed It: Big(ger) Budget Cuts Coming
The Inky had a big story this weekend all about how $1.4 billion in combined federal aid that was supposed to come to Pennsylvania and New Jersey to help balance the budgets…wait for it…isn’t.
We know you’ve heard this one before. But it looks like in between denying a cozy relationship with his administration’s hottest hottie, guv Rendell had a word for the coming budget situation: Armageddon.
But it appears likely that the lack of federal money will force more painful cuts to programs, including mental-health and children’s services, whose funding has already been eviscerated the last few years.
Not receiving the federal Medicaid funding “would be devastating,” said Tim Allwein, assistant executive director of governmental and member relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
School districts in Pennsylvania, he said, would likely lose the extra money Gov. Rendell is proposing for basic education, leaving them to raise taxes or slash programs and teaching jobs
Rendell had one word last week to describe the impact on the state budget should the Medicaid money be permanently axed: Armageddon.
He predicted the loss would result in 20,000 layoffs of state, county, and municipal workers, as well as public school teachers. Losing the money could also affect thousands of social-service organizations in the private sector that rely on state funding.
And this is our favorite part:
A total of 30 states had been counting on the federal money to help balance budgets. But on Thursday, the latest version of the funding measure did not get the votes it needed to survive a GOP filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
Thanks, GOP/Ben Nelson!
According to the New York Times, only nine states have been able to come up with contingency plans around not receiving federal aid.
Here’s some more awesome stats to wrap your head around:
• Since the shitstorm started in the fall of 2008, Pennsylvania has made more than $2.5 billion in cuts.
• The federal Medicaid spending overall had already been scaled back to $16 billion from $24 billion
• Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan may have put the GOP’s opposition of the jobs bill (which contains said federal aid) best when she said:
“It is very clear that the Republicans in the Senate want this economy to fail. They see that things are beginning to turn around…. In cynical political terms, it doesn’t serve them in terms of their election interests if things are beginning to turn around.”
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post put the Republicans’ nefarious opposition like this:
Republicans may also stand to reap the rewards if government is perceived to be failing.
The problem for Dems is that there are no indications whatsoever that the public is outraged by GOP obstruction. Poll after poll shows that the public is convinced Republicans are the ones not making good faith efforts to cooperate. But even though there are indications that the public holds the GOP in low regard, there are no signs that awareness of GOP obstructionism will help Dems at the ballot box, if generic Congressional matchup polls are any indication.
Indeed, what if the opposite is true: If the government is perceived as dysfunctional, mightn’t the party that’s running the place end up paying the price? We’ve heard endlessly that people are fed up with Congress and that this is an anti-incumbent year. This is probably only encouraged by Senate dysfunction, whoever is to blame.
In the short term, Republicans are making what will probably end up being the right bet that taking down the nation’s job market will only hurt the party in power. In the exchange, families will lose their homes, go hungry, and some will die. All in a day’s work.
The GOP’s official stance in opposition to filibuster has to do with their sudden, convenient worries about the federal deficit rather than, you know, jobs.
Thanks to the lack of federal funding in a crisis, Pennsylvania is not only going to be cutting mental health and children’s services “whose funding has already been eviscerated the last few years,” according to the Inky, but our deteriorating highway and public transit infrastructure and programs like Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams’ Gun Violence Task Force, which actually helped attain 700 prosecutions and convictions in Philadelphia. It’d already been cut from $5 million to $3 million.
But hey, if government can’t help the people, the people vote the opposition party! That’s what’s important.