2016 is drawing to a close. For some of us, we may be glad. Presidential election years are always tense, with a lot of spirited discussion. The end of the year also presents the opportunity to look back, remember what we did right, and rethink our errors to do better next year. Here are 10 things for which Americans for Prosperity is thankful this year.
Number 10. Our Capitol is beautiful. If you’ve not been there, you should visit. It is one of the most beautiful capitols in the country and as citizens we have access to the building and our elected officials. Go visit. Often. Be a presence.
Number 9. We have a budget: This time last year, Governor Wolf had not agreed to a budget, it looked like we were about to get a tax increase and many social services and local agencies were struggling to meet needs and figure out how to provide services. Though, the budget we got in June was pretty bad, we don’t have the same insecurity as we did this time last year.
Number 8. The legislature is not in session. When they’re not in session, they can’t pass tax increases. The less they are in Harrisburg, the better. Remember the 5% increase in spending they have no real plan to pay for…as they did in the budget.. They also can’t raise our taxes or think up terrible ideas with which to burden us.
Number 7. New Economic Freedom Fighters. When they do come back in session, Republicans will have a veto proof majority in the Senate and will have expanded its caucus in the house. We should be thankful that the newly elected members are more likely to support economic freedom and policies that make PA better. We need all the torchbearers we can get to change the status quo.
Number 6. More reform: Last session, the legislature moved some good reform forward—from paycheck protection, to liquor privatization, to union transparency, not perfection, but small steps in the economic freedom movement. We are moving the discussion and policy making in the right direction. I’m hopeful we’ll see more of the reforms to government, which Pennsylvania needs to remain competitive and create economic and individual opportunity.
Number 5. Governor Wolf’s agenda has been diminished. With the expanded majorities in the legislature, there is a clear desire of citizens to see the size and scope of government scaled back so that PA can thrive. It’s unlikely Governor Wolf will be able to get the massive taxes and expansion of government that he once championed through the legislature. That’s good for taxpayers and for everyone who knows the best way for the government to help is to get out of the way.
Number 4. No broad-based tax increases. We gave the legislature a lot of flack for passing a spending increase in the June budget. They had the option to decrease corporate welfare and regulations that would have freed up taxpayer dollars – and the private market – for other priorities. To their credit, the Republican majority – with a little help from more conservative members from the other side of the aisle – have stood firm against Governor Wolf’s billion dollar tax and spend priorities. Say thanks when you see your lawmaker and keep up the pressure on them to hold firm.
Number 3. We are able to hold them accountable. We should be thankful that we have every right to engage, thank, argue and ask our lawmakers to work for us and support the issues we support. We don’t win them all, but we have to remember that our government is as good or bad as we let it be—and we have the power to change it.
Number 2. Pennsylvania is a big, interesting and diverse state. We’re more than Philadelphia to the east, Pittsburgh to the west and Alabama in the middle. We are the state where freedom began and regardless of where we live in the Keystone, we are usually surrounded by family, friends, interesting characters, pretty good sports teams, history and a beautiful landscape. What’s not to love? Soon it will be Christmas and the winter snow will make this lovely landscape seem magical. It is magical, this is America.
Number 1. We are free people in the greatest country the world has ever known. Liberty and freedom make life better for everyone, especially the least fortunate. We’re not perfect and we continue to tinker with and improve who we are, but we should be thankful every day to have the good fortune of being an American.
I’m Anna McCauslin, Director of Policy with Americans for Prosperity – Pennsylvania. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and online at americans for prosperity dot org.