Let’s Ease Up On Ed Rendell


Yes.  You read that correctly.  Long-time readers know what I’m about to say.  Everyone else gets an explanation after the break.

There’s been a lot of impasse-related outrage directed at Governor Rendell lately.  From petitions calling for his impeachment to talk radio hosts all but calling for his execution, it seems everyone is holding Rendell’s feet to the fire over the impasse.

And it needs to ease up.

Rendell does, in fact, deserve partial blame for the impasse.  As the highest ranking member of the Pennsylvania Democratic party, he has the power to beat the legislators into shape (at least on the Democratic side of the aisle).  And love him or hate him, you have to admit he has considerable political clout.  Even his harshest critic would have to acknowledge that the man is a political powerhouse (his critics don’t call him “Teflon Ed” for no reason).

But we can not forget about the legislature’s role in this.  Each and every legislator shares blame equal to that of Rendell in this disgrace.  As teams, they failed to present a working budget.  As individuals, they failed to work together as a team.  And on the whole, as our elected officials, they failed to represent our interests.

An ultra-quick primer on our state government is in order.  In case you’ve somehow made it this far without understanding how our state government works, don’t be embarrassed.  It’s been a long time since high school, and most people probably couldn’t tell you how senatorial & representative districts are established.  For that matter, given the events of this year, I doubt most legislators could explain that, but now we’re just going off on a whole other tangent.

There’s a very good crash course on state government at the legislature’s official website.  Everyone should at least have a basic working knowledge of how our government works, and this site will give you plenty of information to get started.  Put very simply, there are three branches to Pennsylvania’s state government:  the Executive branch (Governor Rendell), the General Assembly (aka the legislature), and the Judicial branch (our court system).

Only two are immediately relevant to the budget process.  The General Assembly (the legislature) is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Representatives are elected every two years.  Half of the senators are elected every two years.  And of course, the governor is elected every four years with an eight-year term limit.  So every two years, voters have the power to make massive, sweeping changes within the state government.  And in a four-year period, voters can put their collective feet down and throw out every single elected official.

I’m going from memory here, and I’m sure someone will pounce on me if I’m wrong.  But to pass the budget, the House of Representatives must first draft and approve one on their own.  It then gets passed to the Senate for approval, before going to the governor for final approval.  Footnote:  The Senate can send a budget proposal to the House as a “suggestion” on how things should be done.  In a cordial world, this would be the Senate saying “Hey, here’s our thoughts, what do you folks think?”  But in the cynical, political, real world, this really says “Hey you bastards, this is what we’re gonna approve.  Dick around with it and we’ll have us a showdown!”  And thus begins the process of pleadings, committees, speeches, stumps, stunts, and general jackassery that seems to comprise our state government as of late.

In a perfect world, our elected officials would remember that they serve us.  They would remember that prior to being elected, they were just Joe Schmoe From Down The Street Who Promised To Do A Good Job For Us.  They’d have somber meetings over the impasse and all agree to belt-tightening and reasonable compromise in order to get things done.  The Senate would relent somewhat because the House would relent somewhat.  A little snip here, a little tug there, and life goes on.

In the real world, our legislature puts in two-hour days and collects $150 daily per diems while telling us they’re “working as hard as they can” and “they feel our pain”.

The point of all this?  Our legislative and executive branches have failed us.  Governor Rendell does deserve blame — and so does the legislature.  But there’s a twist:

Rendell is not up for re-election.

He has hit his term limit.  He can’t run again.  He’s essentially invincible.  He’s finished with Pennsylvania — he doesn’t care if people love him or hate him.  So he’ll do as he pleases, and — I know this hurts to hear — he will get away with it.  But the legislators are a different story.  They CAN be punished.  They DO have a lot to lose.  They can be voted out of office.

By focusing all the blame on Rendell, a lot of people will forget that we have a few hundred other people — our legislators — who are equally responsible.  Their jobs are on the line, and they would love nothing more than for all of us to blame this entirely on Rendell.

Don’t let this happen.  Tell your friends, your neighbors, your newspaper, your talk radio programs, your mailing list buddies, your family, your coworkers, and everyone you know:  The legislature shares the blame.

Do not let them get away scot-free.

Blame the Senate, the House, the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Governor.  There’s not a single one among them who does not share blame.


  1. JO(S)E says:

    Excellent point!

    We must begin to not only learn about the government, but follow through and PARTICIPATE as well. We are the majority!

    Hopefully, this crisis has awakened enough people to RUN FOR OFFICE and also enough to SUPPORT those brave enough to run.

    ORGANIZE while we’re united.

  2. Idiocy says:

    Get serious. Every budget hes been involved in has been a mockery.he’s a bully and as wasteful as they get. This idea that if it has to so with education it’s Teflon is shear bullshit. if e eryone else has to tighten up then they should too. It’s time they do too. They should learn to live within their means.

  3. floor9 says:

    Read the whole post, Idiocy. The legislature is equally responsible for this mess. To say that this is entirely Rendell’s fault is incorrect. It’s important that people remember that there are 254 people who bear responsibility for this mess. We can’t do much about Rendell, but we can do a hell of a lot against the current legislature.

  4. Mark C. says:

    Until such time as management begins to get their pay raises back, I will certainly blame as much as I can on the Governor.

    The budget originates with the Governor. The legislature needs to act on it. But, it’s the Governor that creates and is accountable for a budget. For seven years he has failed miserably in that regard!!!

  5. Pissed Off PA says:

    That is incorrect, Mark. The budget originates with the Legislature, THEN goes to the Governor to sign. They all share blame.

  6. Robin says:

    Hmmmm. I was quiet this morning lest I pounce . However, Mark C is mostly correct about the Budget process Pissed Off. The Legislature does not begin the process…it’s the Governor’s responsibility to create the budget for his organizations.

    It begins in the Office of Budget where they distribute instructions (in August!) and then the Agencies prepare the budget request worksheets for the following year, submit them to the Office of Budget by October. The Office of Budget prepares funding recommendations and balances them identifying needs for Revenue etc for the Secretary of Budget and the Governor. In Dec the Gov meets with the General Assembly to apprise them of major fiscal issues. The Governor makes the final tweaks and decisions and has it completed by January. In Feb he gives a budget address and presents it to the General Assembly. They, then deliberate and have hearings through to June during which they are supposed to approve and enact a budget. The process is well documented and flow charted at this link beginning on Page 8. http://tinyurl.com/m9k352

    It’s a really interesting document and if you are attempting to educate yourself on the government processes as I have been for the last few weeks it’s a useful read!

  7. Robin says:

    OK. After having studied this for a while. Here’s the blame that can be attributed to Gov Ed from my view of the house.

    ONLY the decision to not pay the employees. And for that I hold him personally responsible. He could have asked for a way to pay the employees. He chose not to. For obvious reasons. I personally believe that he would still have employees in a no-pay status if his hand had not been on the verge of being forced.

    Until that point, he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He got the budget prepared and in time and presented it to the General Assembly in February on schedule. He notified them of shortfalls and the need for additional revenue in trying to balance the budget presented by his Agencies in their requests for funding and his programs he wants to fund at a certain level based on priorities established by ?? I guess him based on what the taxpayers want for PA??

    The General Assembly sat on their thumbs until very late this year. Both the House and the Senate, digging in their heels and standing solid on political ideology. Those bad boys know the consequences of not enacting a budget. It is they who have the most to lose so they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces!

    So now Gov Ed is paying the employees…well, most of them. Because he has to. Remember that it wasn’t until around July 20 that you started to hear any public noise out of the Republican Senate that it was “despicable” not to pay the employees and that this was leverage. It didn’t come until after the word about the DOL investigation that the lawyers and accountants and economics majors in the Democratic House began to chirp publicly about how the employees needed to be paid.

    Meanwhile, just as it was taken for granted that the employees would take this decision not to pay them happily lying down, it was ALSO taken for granted that everybody was too dumb to understand the role of the General Assembly in this mess. So they collectively (House and Senate) threw Gov Ed under the wheels of the bus. They made the failure to pay us the overarching issue.

    Well yeah. Ed deserves to go under the bus for using the employees as leverage. The General Assembly deserves to be under the Bus for their abysmal performance in getting the job done and their inability to successfully compromise in achieving the goals we, as taxpayers, want them to achieve. As I’ve said on my site. My tax dollars are not being used for what they are collected for since July 1. And that is wrong. Your tax dollars have been collected likewise…and they are not being used for the purposes for which they’ve been collected. And it’s the failure of the General Assembly to make the necessary compromises that will facilitate agreement in a timely enough fashion that has every citizen in Pennsylvania being held hostage this very day.

    And that’s what Floor9 is saying.

    Whether you agree or disagree with the spending philosophies is a moot point. The months between Feb and June are for precisely that…rationalizing what has been presented and rightsizing the spending. But it requires dedicated effort and negotiation and, on the part of all sides, compromise.

  8. tim says:

    I have no use for the man he has done nothing but run this state into the ground .As for the budget ,You cannot put something on the table that you know is not up to date and accurate its pretty simple

  9. Irene says:

    we need to keep reminding everyone about the budget debacle. Go to BlowOutCongress.com and check it out. What a way to remind people. Keep pressure on the incumbents and the public short memories can hurt us re-elction time.

  10. Mark C. says:

    Now all of a sudden were all so kind to the Gov? The minute u get a paycheck it’s over?
    For 7 years there has never been a budget on time and considering they start the process so early, there is no excuse.
    And let’s look at the real reason this came to bear the way it did. Two-weeks before July 1, the Gov says oh by the way, I am asking to have the PIT raised 16%!!
    This was nowhere in the projections was it? Nope, just out of left field he decides to throw a huge wrench in the works. And he thought the Republicans would say ok?
    He attempted to have a tantrum to have his way and the Republicans didn’t blink. Think about it!

  11. Lacey McMaize says:

    I have been stuck in this mess with the rest of us for the last 7 years and I am quite well versed with the vagueries of the budget process. I am not going to stop paying attention just because my checks have started to roll in again, but neither am I going to go blind to the bigger picture.

    Rendell is an Idiot, of that there is no doubt, but the legislature have had their hand in each years mess too. By not having to worry about re-election Rendell may be thinking he is invincible but the legislature probably views it slightly different…Lame Duck!

    If you ask me I figure that both sides of this issue are suffering delusions of grandeur, each wrongly betting the other side will give for exactly the same reasons. For all of our ‘Elected’ officials to jointly fall for the same grandiose power grabbing fantasy is disgraceful and embarrassing. At this point it has drug on so long that they may see the folly in it but now need to find a way to save face. A further deepening of the embarrassment and an empowering reason to ensure that NONE of them make it back.

    Place this beside the 2005 Pay Raises and you have a very compelling reason to vote ALL Incumbents OUT ASAP!!!

  12. floor9 says:

    @Mark, do you believe the legislature is not responsible for the budget delay?


  13. Mark C. says:

    Hello? The legislature can only react to what is presented to them by the governor. There is a speech every year in which the governor presents his budget. I don’t see the legislature coming to agencies asking for them to present their budget to them. Read the process.
    Yes there is blame to go around, but all of a sudden we need to lay off the gov because he is a lame duck? He has been lame since he got elected!
    As far as I am concerned, and from what I can tell from all this mess, is a real sense of disgust and the need to rid ourselves of our current legislature in upcoming elections.
    All incumbants need to go. I think there needs to be a measure to limit terms of the legislature. There way spoiled.
    Have you seen their benefit package? They get their raises and healthcare with no member contribution!!

  14. floor9 says:

    Mark, your points are valid but your information is incorrect. Governor Rendell put forth his Executive Budget on Feb 4 of this year. He was on schedule. The legislature had until the end of June to review and enact the budget, which they did not do.

    The legislature’s failure has been (and still is) to pass a working budget. The governor’s failure has been (and still is) to push the legislature into action. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the process is currently stalled in the legislature.

    The people who run around screaming “OMG THIS IS ALL RENDELL’S FAULT” are doing all Pennsylvanians a great disservice. We need to remember that the legislature shares equal blame, and we need to make sure we act on that memory when elections roll around.

    Anyone who says this is all Rendell’s doing is simply wrong.

  15. Idiocy says:

    Yea maybey your right but it’s the liberal evans – rendell I’ll that has the give me give me or else attitude. They are all at fault somwhat but any one that uses state employees as pawns shouldn’t be kept in office. Rendell while he sells himself as a progressive is a Monet wasting machine. What can you tell me that he has brought to pa in leadership that is good. I for one am tired of hearing about the school clildren. They will be alright . He sells that story like a comon whore on the street using pity and guilt to get more money. One prominent state legislator told me last year that they needed to use these tactics because the republicans wouldn’t give money for road projects that were dearly needed. You cNt continue to ask state employees to sacrifice while they can’t feed their families now. He is simply no good.

  16. LT'S Wife says:

    Do you realize that there are working class families that depend on the subsidy for their child care so they can continue to work? Do you understand that these children could end up home alone, the parents will end up losing their jobs and go on welfare because they are better off financially if they have to pay for full child care? Some of these kids are going to fall through the cracks. These same kids are the future of this state and country. I am in no way a Rendell fan but I care about what happens to these kids. There are other cuts that can take place.

  17. LT's Wife says:

    Pennsylvania Governor Rendell doles out $361 million in borrowed money.


  18. LT'S Wife says:

    The Stubborn three. Why can’t Pa get the budget passed?


    There is also a link to an interview in this article that you should take the time to view.

  19. LT'S Wife says:

    Pennsylvania Inspector General Gets welfare audit report.


  20. TVwatcher says:

    As a direct result of the delay in the passing of a budget, I have been laid off from my job of over ten years. Our governor and elected represenatives in the legislature have been unable to do anything except offer excuses and point fingers. The governor and members of the House and Senate feel completely justified in holding the citizens of the Commonwealth hostage in their personal quests for power. Since the ongoing budget fiasco has no personal effect on our elected officals in Harrisburg, why shouldn’t they believe that people’s lives are simply bargaining chips that can be traded for influence and advantage?
    The disgusting, convoluted disaster that is Harrisburg politics has gone on long enough, we cannot let one more year pass with budget stalemates and legislative posturing.
    Every member of the House and Senate must be voted out of office. Every citizen needs to remember the shameful performance of these legislators and Governor Rendell so that none of them can ever occupy another public office, anywhere. Don’t let the House and Senate get away blaming this budget disaster on the Governor, partisan politics or the economy. This is their job, and if they can’t handle it, then it’s time to find someone who can. Call your represenatives, call them every day, demand to know what they are doing, don’t wait until you are out of a job. You pay their salaries, they aren’t doing their jobs, and they think you are too stupid and lazy to care…maybe they’re right?

  21. LT'S Wife says:

    I was just told by a friend that someone involved in the finances of the state told him that because at this time, the budget is not passed and we are under a temporary budget that if this isn’t resolved in either 60 or 90 ( he couldn’t remember which) that we go back to the way things were on July 1st meaning, once again we have no paychecks. Has anyone else seen or heard about this? I can’t find anything about it anywhere. I am waiting for a reply from some of the member of the house. I am not holding my breath on them answering.

  22. Irene says:

    I have been waiting to see a response to this post , as i, too am interested in finding out the truth. It seems that suddenly foor9 has been silenced. Before there was a lot of imput and interaction, now …

  23. floor9 says:

    Nonsense, Irene, I’m still here. 🙂 I’m juggling a dozen projects at work and getting ready to sell my house, so I’ve had my plate full right now.

  24. LT'S Wife says:

    I heard back yesterday from Tim Solobay (D) Canonsburg House member. He said he checked into this and that it was not true. I am not sure who his sources were. I don’t know how it could be true considering this was supposed to be done so the employee’s got paid but I am being cautious just in case his sources are wrong.

  25. Irene says:

    I guess I should’ve been more clear on my comment. I wasn’t as much saying that you were the only one silenced. It seems that many of the people commenting on this site shut up once the checks were coming again. I only hope the memories aren’t that short at election time. I was afraid , tho, that maybe the Rendell thugs had found a way to silence the critics

  26. LT'S Wife says:

    Yes and in the mean time other people are losing their jobs due to the situation. Some being employee’s some are working for agencies that rely on state funding. There are still @ 2000 employee’s whose jobs fell under the line item veto sections that are not getting paid! This is a mess and I too have been very disappointed and frustrated that nobody is making any noise either.

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