Friday, May 05, 2006

Missing in action

capitolThe big story of today continues to be the last-minute failure of the State Assembly to pass the package of property tax relief (however flawed) that they had agreed upon. Two themes dominate the coverage:

1. How did this happen? Nobody seemed to see it coming, from the sponsors of the bill (stunned) to the Governor (disappointed).
After all, it had bipartisan support, having sailed through the Senate by a wide margin, and House Republican leaders were confident they had the votes to pass it.
Some lawmakers say the matter will be voted on in June, but others point out that budget negotiations get underway then and are unlikely to set a chipper and collegial tone. Everybody has different theories about how political considerations colored the choice to hold up this vote.
Why the inaction? Some members wanted more tax relief for more people. A few really wanted dramatic, structural tax reform. More than a few, if you injected sodium pentathol, would admit that they hate to hand Gov. Rendell a victory to boost his re-election bid.
Another possibility is that the troops weren't lining up in an orderly way behind the leadership and their deals; that might explain a hesitancy to take the final tally . . . Ferrick thinks that a closer look at the details made lawmakers reconsider their support, as money for seniors might have meant less relief for everybody else later.

2. Where was John Perzel? A hugely important session was underway, and nobody seemed to know where the majority leader was, but it clearly wasn't Harrisburg. Apparently he was on a jaunt to Florida, where he would be paid handsomely for attending a business meeting.
At yesterday's annual meeting at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, where Perzel was staying, shareholders of the publicly traded company voted to give him another term on the board. The job pays $20,000 a year, plus stock options and thousands of dollars more to attend meetings - including about $5,000 to attend this week's.
As a result, he missed some 42 votes for the day's business, as well as closed-door negotiations on the tax plan. Dan at YPP hopes that Rendell can punish the do-nothing Assembly in the fall, and Albert notes that the company whose meeting Perzel was attending is in competition for a substantial prison contract in Delaware County. But it's all just for fun...


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