Pa. doesn’t need more big, bad bureaucracies

Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/5/10
Small, local governments are the best in the state.

By Michael Pakenham

A governance grab is afoot in Pennsylvania. If approved by the state legislature, it would constitute the most volatile graft accelerant since the plain brown envelope.

It would balloon the payrolls of the state’s 67 counties. It would obliterate more than 2,500 local governments. And it would generate massive new state and county agencies.

If you have never been terrified by gobbledygook, you haven’t read the title of the state Senate’s version of the proposal: “An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, creating the Boundary Review Commission; providing for municipal dissolutions, incorporations, annexations, mergers and consolidations; and making an appropriation.” The House’s is even scarier.

The grab is contained in Senate Bill 1357 and House Bill 2431. Its intent is to decapitate and bury local governance.

Though the legislation has received little attention, it is a serious threat. One bill is sponsored by six senators, the other by 13 representatives. They argue for efficiency, concentration, simplification, and other platitudinous notions unsupported by fact. Their campaign goes back years in one form or another.

The bills’ supporters contend that local government is inefficient, unprofessional, and costly. The facts refute that. In the 20 years since the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act was passed, not even 1 percent of Pennsylvania’s municipalities have sought state protection. Meanwhile, big governments all over the state – and the biggest, the state itself – are in or teetering on the brink of bankruptcy….

keep reading at Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/5/10

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