Baer: The budget speech Gov. Wolf could give

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

(Gov. Wolf will present his new state budget plan Tuesday to a joint session of the General Assembly. This is not the speech he’ll give. But it’s one he could give.)

Hey, everybody.

I’ll be quick cuz the Jeep’s running.

As you know, the state’s a mess, but I plan to seek a second term next year so no new taxes and no drama. I don’t need a dragged-out budget battle like that soul-sucking one in 2015-16. I’m thinking low-profile, then reelection ads.

And, just so we’re clear, moving my chief of staff, Mary Isenhour, to my campaign just before we start negotiating over the most important thing we do does not, I repeat, does not mean I have more interest in campaigning than in governing.

Just so we’re clear.

Also, I am as fully committed to eliminating our multibillion-dollar deficit this year as I was to eliminating our multibillion-dollar deficit two years ago, and the fact we still face a multibillion-dollar deficit should not be viewed as my fault.

After all, it was you invertebrates who refused to raise taxes to meet our needs, despite the fact virtually none of you, thanks to gerrymandering and incumbent-protecting campaign finance laws, could lose your seat for any reason short of incurring charges of bestiality – and maybe, in parts of the state, not even then.

But how, exactly, do we tackle our big budget woes without big new taxes?

Well, that’s why I spent $1.8 million in taxpayer money to hire the global consulting firm McKinsey to tell me in six weeks what neither my crack staff nor I, with all my business acumen and Ph.D. from MIT, could figure out in two years.

Namely, stop spending so much.

Oh, and close a prison or two, lay off some state workers, consolidate some state agencies, and tweak others to do more with less to save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Efficiencies, yeah, that’s the ticket.

We’ll be a leader among states in beating back bureaucracy to deliver better dollar-value service to our citizens. Sound good?

Now, I bet I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this the same guy who preached higher taxes as remedy for our ills, the right prescription to pave the path to government that works, schools that teach, and jobs that pay?

Well, yes, it is.

But you clowns — excuse me, you cost-conscious keepers of fiscal conservatism, except when it comes to your salaries, perks, pensions, per diems, and size — have no appetite for hiking the only taxes (income and sales) that could raise revenue at rates to make Bernie Madoff blush and make Pennsylvania great again.

But now I’m with you because, did I mention, I’m seeking a second term, so no new big taxes.

Instead, we’ll pump up gambling, online and elsewhere, to take advantage of  gaming suckers. Pass some practically harmless tax on the natural gas industry, which despite production dips in 2016 is almost certain to rebound. And pray that the oh-sweet-Jesus-what’s-he-done-now administration of President Trump delivers on a promise of 6 percent economic growth.

And two more things.

First, no budget message would be complete without rolling out our annual collection of ever-present budgeting clichés.

So here goes: We’re going to close corporate tax loopholes, end waste and fraud, tear down our mindless monopoly on liquor sales, eliminate property taxes, and sensibly resolve our public-pension crisis.

Second, don’t forget to keep an eye out for my campaign emails covering and recapping substantive issues while allowing you to make secure online contributions to my reelection effort.

So, thank you all — and, oh, God bless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.