Our opinion: Playing the game

In politics – the art of keeping yourself employed by the taxpayers for as long as possible – the goal is to balance the wants and needs of different groups, while weighing the potential damage with the potential rewards at the polls.

And, so it is that for the past several weeks the collective intellectual might of the Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly has been doing the math and assessing the risks to public acceptance of a number of issues key to a budget for the Commonwealth.

The ciphering and juggling, the posturing and the posing came to a head Thursday morning when Corbett added his signature to a half-done piece of work, while vetoing a couple line items contained therein.

In the words of the Prince at the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet, “All are punished.”

Corbett is smarting because of the few basic goals of his administration – privatizing liquor sales, privatizing the lottery, and reforming the state pension system – the General Assembly, controlled by his own party, gave him none.

The last straw was the last of that list, and the one we’re convinced really needs to be accomplished for the long-term benefit of not just the state’s fiscal health, but that of the more than 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, and, in turn, state and local taxpayers.

We can all point fingers at who we believe allowed or promoted the pension crisis. The usual detractors on either side of the aisle will point to the Ridge administration or the Rendell administration, but finger-pointing has never solved a problem, and it won’t solve this one.

So, Corbett signed the budget but stuck it to the legislature by red-lining $65 million from its budget, telling them to make it up from their rainy day fund and get back to work.

Will the $65 million the governor vetoed significantly alter Pennsylvania’s fiscal circumstance or send the legislature into full panic? Hardly; it’s more of a nose-tweek.

But we can’t help but support the governor on this one.

The General Assembly, indeed, needs to go back to work and set aside its political calculations in favor of fiscal responsibility.