(A brief discussion tween Baer and Baer's editor, a.k.a., BE)
JB: You know your favorite Legislature starts a new session today, right?
BE: Wow, right to work, eh? Figure out how to cut that $4 billion deficit, sell the State Stores, bring jobs to every region of the state? Must be a full agenda today.
JB: Uh, actually, it's just speeches, receptions and lots of flowers.
JB: Yup. Desks in the 203-seat House and 50-seat Senate will be adorned. It'll look like a florists' convention.
BE: Who pays?
JB: You're joking, right? We're talking the PENNSYLVANIA legislature. Last time, two years ago, taxpayers spent $13 K just on new Bibles for the swearing-ins.
BE: Of course.
JB: But, hey, a glimmer of hope. House leaders are using donor funds to pay for Bibles, flowers, receptions, according to a front-page piece in the Harrisburg Patriot-News yesterday by my colleague Jan Murphy.
BE: And the Senate?
JB: Not so much.
BE: How much?
JB: Well, Jan's piece estimates around $23 K just for the House; no word on the Senate.
BE: So, special interests pay House expenses and taxpayers pay the Senate tab.
JB: Pick your poison.
BE: Well, at least they're back early and ready to dig in, eh?
JB: Actually, after today they're gone until Jan. 18 when Tom Corbett gets sworn in, according to an AP piece today.
BE: Who pays for that?
JB: I'm thinking the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
BE: Well, at least taxpayers aren't footing the whole bill speechifying, balls, partues and all those Bibles and flowers.
JB: Right. Reform is in full bloom.