Is the Senate Negotiating in Good Faith?

Member Group : Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania

It appears that House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed has finally accepted reality and abandoned his push for a tax hike. As we noted last week, the Senate is now pushing for a spending increase that blows through the rate of inflation plus population growth. Making matters worse, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (Centre County) quickly pushed through several massive code changes late last week to hob-knob in New York City over the weekend.

Corman wasted no time in trying to throw the House Republican caucus under the bus and lay the blame on them for the continued budget impasse. This was a sentiment quickly echoed by the Governor and the Capitol press corps. Although advocates of big spending would like the public to believe that the House walked away from the "agreed to" budget framework, the numbers tell a different story.

A memo circulating in the House provided a side by side comparison between what was agreed to and what the Senate passed. There is a substantial gap in some areas. The Senate budget overspent revenues by $1.8 billion; the framework was short $600 million. The Senate "privatization" bill is a joke. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observed, "It’s not even a foot in the door to privatization…The Senate has diluted any movement toward free enterprise."

Between the massive tax-hike required to fund the Senate budget, the increase in corporate welfare, shoddy liquor reform, and other issues, one wonders what is happening behind closed doors in the Senate. How many of these changes are for the benefit of negotiations? And, how many are for the Senate Republican’s lobbyist allies…and spouses?

In August of 2014, ABC 27 aired a two-part story about the incestuous relationship between one lobbying firm, Long & Nyquist, and Senate leadership:

"Undaunted, Scarnati amended a bill dealing with the Racehorse Development Fund to include $1.5 million for the technology [developed by Chemimage] and steered the money toward the Office of Administration. The House stripped it out.

"But in 2014, funding for the technology appeared again.

"This time it was a $1.5 million grant to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency for a pilot program.

"Governor Corbett’s staff was baffled as to why Scarnati’s office kept pushing funding for a product State Police didn’t want.

"In a memo obtained by abc27, Corbett’s budget employees quoted Scarnati’s Chief Counsel Drew Crompton as saying he was shifting the money into the Office of Administration’s budget, "to give me more options if I keep hitting walls with PSP (state police)."

"Crompton’s wife, Megan, is a lobbyist at Harrisburg firm Long Nyquist and Associates.

"One of her clients is Chemimage." (Emphasis added)

Considering that Drew Crompton has been the go-to guy for defending the Senate’s budget, it is certainly worth wondering how forcefully he is recommending changes that would negatively impact his wife’s book of business.