I told you this was going to happen.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett released his 1,184-page budget proposal on Tuesday. It contains some small program increases, and more than $1 billion in education cuts. All public schools and our 18 state-affiliated universities share that burden.
Corbett brags that his budget doesn’t increase taxes. That’s not true, and he knows it. It doesn’t increase state taxes, but school property and local taxes will have to increase to take up even a small part of the slack. The Pittsburgh Public Schools alone will lose $34.1 million. I live in the Pittsburgh area. There is no way the city can make up that deficit with its existing tax base.
Do you have children in a state-affiliated university? I do. Are there any guesses on how much tuition will increase next year? If Corbett and his cronies get their way, Penn State alone will lose HALF of its funding – $182 million. University President Graham Spanier is already talking about closing some campuses and eliminating the in-state tuition rate. You can bet the farm that Spanier and Pitt’s Mark Nordenberg won’t consider taking pay cuts. Don’t be surprised when the tuition increases total more than the funding cuts. How else do you expect them to pay bonuses to themselves?
Republicans and teapartiers love to argue that government should operate like a business. I’ve worked for several large corporations in my career. They’re not all they’re cracked up to be, and the people are not always very bright. If you’ve ever worked for a corporation, you know that, too.
Of course, government should be business-like in some aspects, as should we all, but it absolutely should not operate like a business. It’s supposed to be better than that. The purpose of business is to make profits. Period. Providing goods and services to customers is merely the means to that end. But we can choose whether to patronize a business. We choose our grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and home improvement stores. We can choose to shun particular stores for particular reasons. I refuse to enter a Wal-Mart, but that’s another story.
We can’t choose whether to patronize our government. That’s why it must serve everyone. Government’s purpose is to manage public affairs and provide public services. Yet they cut, and cut, and cut our services. And they cut, and cut, and cut taxes on millionaires and corporations.
Once again, tax cuts do not create jobs. Microsoft doesn’t hire more people when Bill Gates’ personal taxes go down. They don’t lay people off when Gates’ taxes go up. And they have plenty of profits to absorb a moderate tax increase without eliminating jobs. If tax cuts created jobs, we would all have five well-paying jobs by now.
The Corbett crowd cut the services that you need when they could so easily install a minuscule tax increase on the folks who have the money, and get most of the benefits. Where do you think the corporations get their money? They get their $umpteen billions$ by paying low wages to you and charging high prices to you. But they’re never satisfied.
Think about it. Who benefits from eliminating taxes on millionaires? Who benefits from eradicating health, safety, fair wage and employment practices, and environmental regulations from trillion dollar corporations? Who benefits from enabling corporations to buy politicians and elections? Who benefits from making it harder for people to vote? Who benefits from abolishing health insurance for 90 percent of Americans? Who benefits from exterminating unemployment and workers’ compensation? Who benefits from demolishing labor unions? Who benefits from destroying public transportation? Who benefits from ending college financial aid programs? Who benefits from decimating our education system so that we continue producing a politically, economically, and socially illiterate workforce? Here’s a hint. They don’t teach civics anymore because they don’t want you to know what they’re up to, or how to stop them. This stuff doesn’t happen by accident.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, education and labor unions have been the gateway to economic security for those of us born to “regular people”. Public education and labor unions created the American middle class. When our education system and our unions collapse, the middle class will be history. It’s not surprising that they hit education the hardest. The last thing any Republican wants is an educated workforce.
Corbett claims that he’s giving “the people” what they want. He said, “I get it. It’s your money.” Yes Tom, some of it is my money. And I want it spent on things that benefit me and my community. In fact, cuts like these actually harm the economy .
In an article last week, I wrote about the GOP plan to destroy America’s middle class. This is stage two. If you ever vote for another Republican again, you deserve what you get. But I don’t. And our children deserve better than this.
For more information
Governor Corbett’s Budget Proposal
Corbett’s state budget plan cuts $866 million
Proposed education cuts termed “catastrophic”
Penn State warns of closures
Governors are Proposing Further Deep Cuts in Services, Likely Harming Their Economies