June 29 – Things aren’t looking all that promising for the Pennsylvania budget.
In March, Governor Josh Shapiro announced plans for a $44.4 billion state budget and since then, lawmakers have been taking in details with a fine-tooth comb.
One of the major issues with that, though, is there’s not much coming out.
PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “Harrisburg is spinning its wheels. You see the big dogs going in, leaving the room and headed to a backroom to negotiate. There are very few real, solid details leaking out. They seem to be talking about a budget number from what I hear that is somewhere in the neighborhood, maybe a little bit lower than what Governor Shapiro proposed back in March.”
Lifeline scholarships are in the conversation. This is a program that looks to fund private school scholarships for children who are assigned to the lowest-performing 15% of public schools in the state.
Kauffman said, “But very frankly the House Democrats are far more interested in their progressive agenda. They keep spending time running these agenda-driven bills that I hope have no chance of going anywhere in the Senate.”
Yesterday the PA House passed a nurse ratio bill that the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) wanted.
Kauffman explained, “Essentially what it would do is tell hospitals how many nurses they need to have in a unit and if they don’t have that many, they essentially have to close the unit or shut the unit or be fined. This is in the midst of this nurse shortage. So it’s strange stuff that we’re dealing with in the Democrat-controlled House right now as we really need to just have a singular focus on getting this budget completed.”
What does Kauffman think of the nurse ratio legislation?
He said, “Would we all love to have more nurses and would we all love to have a plethora of nurses to serve whenever we’re in the hospital? Yes. But it’s impossible to do it now. Because what did we do during the pandemic? I mean, very frankly, I think a lot of nurses were driven out when they were told they either needed to get the shot or get fired. I voted against the nurse ratio bill because it just makes no sense unless you want to shutter units of the Chambersburg Hospital and not have anyone to serve whenever you need admitted.”
Another bill is focused on referendums.
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “It seems to me like the Democrats want to make law through constitutional referendums by changing our Constitution because I feel like mob rule emotions can really affect the outcome of these. They wanted to try to manipulate the whole process of this week. You can’t do referendums in the primary elections. You can only do them in the general elections in even years?”
Kauffman said, “That is exactly what you’re talking about. They drive out this massive turn out of people who are, I know this might offend some folks, but the least informed of the electorate. Look who just elected John Fetterman, who has a 39% approval rating and can’t string two sentences together. Those are the people who want to determine these constitutional amendments through referendums when they are generally done on the primary ballot in odd years. Very frankly, that’s when you get the most informed electorate out. That’s the reality. The folks who really care, who dig in and know the issues, who know the candidate. They turn out in the primary, but they want the masses who generally just come out on hot button issues. They want them deciding these things.”
Jansen said, “That’s frightening to me because you get more of what I call a mob rule, a mob who’s easily influenced, who doesn’t understand, and are voting for things and just go ahead and slap on whatever their party tells them to slap on. I’m talking about Republicans too. I would like a more informed electorate coming out in those years in the primary. I still think it’s a bad idea, but at least you’re getting a more informed electorate. What they said doesn’t stand up at all. Oh, the working man can’t get out. That’s nonsense. We have 50 days, five zero, of mail in voting. There’s no way that anybody’s restricted from voting on these if it happens on a primary vote. So that doesn’t even make sense, but that’s what they want. They want mob rule for these things. I’m really disturbed by it.”
The possibility of open primaries is also moving from the state government committee.
Kauffman explained, “People think, oh yeah, we should just be able to go out and Independents should vote in whatever primary they want, or Democrats switching over, but the reality is I’ve seen states where there are open primaries and what you have, generally, this is a generalization, is you have the Democrats, they determine their candidate in a closed room, get everybody out of the field, so they have their Democratic candidate, kind of like they did with Josh Shapiro this year. Then they tell all of their people to go out in the Republican Primary. You get involved in the Republican Primary, and you all vote for this candidate. That’s how they then affect the Democratic process through these open primaries. They interfere in the other party’s election. That’s the issue. That’s what they’re trying to do is influence elections, influence election outcomes. They interfere in our Democratic process in these two ways.”