The Corbett/GOP Way

After the 2010 elections when Pennsylvanians put Republican Tom Corbett in the governor's office and the GOP in control of the Legislature, I wrote more than once that elections have consequences.

Those consequences are playing out, depending on your ideology, for better or worse.

It appears the guv and legislative leaders are agreed on a new budget to take effect July 1 that includes breaks for business and cuts in welfare, which is, after all, the Republican way.

Overall spending would increase only 2% and the budget would adhere to Corbett's prime directive of no new taxes. It also is on track to be an on-time budget, Corbett's second in two years after eight years of late budgets under Democrat Ed Rendell.

The Associated Press reports the GOP plan cuts business taxes by $275 million while cutting social service and welfare grants by $234 million. It keeps $267 million back in reserve.

Education funding would be flat-lined instead of reduced as Corbett proposed. It is, after all, an election year for lawmakers who don't want too much local anger impacting their reelections.

But the administration appears to have convinced legislative leaders to go along with providing huge tax credits to Shell over time in exchange for a $4 billion petrochemical plant in Western Pennsylvania said to mean tens of thousands of new jobs.

Since Democrats don't have the votes to push or stop anything, none were involved in negotiations, and none are needed to pass a budget.

Specifics are sketchy because leaders intend to first brief rank-and-file members -- pretending such members have influence in budget outcomes -- before releasing details to the public, and because playing stuff close to the vest is the Corbett way.

If all goes according to script, we'll soon hear about a "win-win" budget that keeps government spending under control while maintaining a safety net for vulnerable citizens, encouraging fiscal responsibility in public education and investing in long-term job growth.

There'll be caterwauling from Democrats and advocates for the poor and for hurting school districts. But the Republican way will have its day -- because elections have consequences.

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