I had meetings yesterday in Hershey, PA. and took in some of the sessions and discussions at the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS). Unfunded mandates were on signs everywhere, on coat and overalls, on caps and suits.
Governor Corbett has changed the State budget from a $2.0+ billion deficit to a projected $250 million in one year. This is certainly a good sign. What comes with it is much less money for schools, social services and other things. This ripple effect is a difficult pill to swallow, locally. It is expected that the Philadelphia, Reading, Chester and possibly Allentown school districts could be essentially bankrupt and taken over by the State. This means, they will pick up the bill, but also make the decisions. There may be no other choice.
Environmental concerns dominate the news and landscape as well. EPA requirements to control runoff are enforced at the local level and solutions need to be worked out, and in most cases paid for there. This is seen as an unfunded mandate. How do we square the desire to protect our environment with the staggering costs this imposes upon a local community? Again, no easy choices here.
Public pensions are another big concern. They are under funded. There is not enough money to meet the commitments we have made to our public sector employees.
Growth is the key, along with reasonable compromises. In the political climate today, this seems like a mirage in the desert.