Energy - August 21, 2015

Budget Battle Blurs Believability

Von Clausewitz wrote that “the first casualty of war is truth.”

In the ongoing ideological battle over Pennsylvania’s budget, it is getting tougher and tougher to sort out fact from fiction. When the Governor vetoed the Republicans’ plan in July, he noted that it did not contain his proposed enhanced funding for education or any of his priorities. The Republicans countered that there were, in fact, modest increases in almost all of the social services – including education.

Just to make his position well known, the Governor took to the airwaves with television commercials and mailers in key legislative districts accusing the opposition of protecting drillers at the expense of children and schools.

This campaign-style attack was met by an equally blunt series of e-mails and political counterattacks claiming that Wolf was simply itching to raise taxes.

To their credit, the leaders are still talking with each other over the din of this hyperbole. 

There was one shot fired that was so over the top that it merits our bemusement here. reported that GOP members and party officials have begun tweeting that: “Governor Wolf vetoed $5 million to support the Papal visit…” There you have it: the Governor is against the Pope!

The Trib.web story, with tongue firmly in cheek, puts it this way:

  • Here’s the thing: There’s – give or take – 500 line items in the state budget, all of which Wolf vetoed (as everyone expected) because it did not include any of his top priorities.
  • Both sides have since accused the other of refusing to compromise on items like increasing funding for basic education, lowering property tax burdens, and taxing natural gas drillers.
  • Until they meet somewhere closer to the middle, there’s plenty of memes to be made…
  • The Republican budget proposal included more than $6 million for state forest operations. VETO: Gov. Wolf Hates Trees!
  • It included a $900,000 allocation for sewage treatment facilities grants. VETO: Gov. Wolf Hates Clean Water!
  • It included $6 million for expanded medical services for women. VETO: Gov. Wolf Hates Moms!
  • It included $4 million for Pennsylvania fairs. VETO: Gov. Wolf Hates Apple Pie!
  • And, for the ultimate reductio ad absurdum: The Republican budget proposal included $6.5 million to run the Governor’s Office. VETO: Gov. Wolf Hates Gov. Wolf!
  • It’s amusing and all, but it’s not really the work for which we send our taxes to Harrisburg.