As of midnight last night 25,000 Pennsylvania workers deemed non-essential were furloughed or temporarily laid off while the good folks in Harrisburg squabble over a new budget. That is 25,000 of our family members, friends and neighbors who are not sure when they will return to work.

Why was this allowed to happen? Well, reading between the lines it would seem that it is more important to Pennsylvania’s Republican delegation to create a stir with Governor Rendell than to get things done. I know what some of you are saying, “yea, yea, you are a freakin’ liberal commentator – why should we believe you?” Look no further than the bottom of this article from today’s Post Gazette. After making it as confusing as possible by quoting as much partisan rhetoric as possible they proceed to toss out this nugget:

An argument broke out on the floor of the House last evening, as some legislators tried to suspend House rules to speed discussion on a “stopgap budget,” a temporary spending plan that would be in effect for up to a month. Passage of such a plan would avert the need for employee furloughs today.

“We came prepared to do a stopgap budget,” said Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin. “We should be able to have a debate on the floor when the governor is talking about putting 25,000 people out of work.”

Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, moved to suspend the rules, but Speaker Dennis O’Brien, R-Philadelphia, didn’t agree with the move and recessed the House indefinitely.

That’s right, rather than pass a stopgap budget that would have averted this whole mess, let’s call it an emergency supplemental, Republican Speaker Dennis O’Brien decided to scuttle the effort and bail. Then we get treated to quotes like this:

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, accused the governor of “continuing to use our state workers as pawns in a game. He’s holding these workers hostage.”

House Republican leader Sam Smith said, “I feel bad that the governor is using the employees as a negotiating tool.”

But Republicans, such as Rep. Mike Turzai of Bradford Woods, said they were standing up for their core principles.

“Legislators know people want controlled spending, no new taxes and no new borrowing. [The governor’s] appetite for spending and borrowing has hit a brick wall,” he said.

Nice try guys, you had a real opportunity to avoid this crap and YOUR LEADERSHIP chose to use the citizens of PA as pawns. Good luck trying to sell that spin back home Jag-ovs.

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