Inquirer Editorial: House of cards

Who, us? Relaxing Republican Reps. (from left) Mike Turzai, Bill Adolph, and Sam Smith.
Who, us? Relaxing Republican Reps. (from left) Mike Turzai, Bill Adolph, and Sam Smith. (File)
Posted: August 04, 2014

When the Pennsylvania legislature fled the capital last month for its summer vacation (which is increasingly indistinguishable from its work), it was slouching toward a deficient, inadequate, and belated response to Philadelphia's school funding crisis. In other words, it was overachieving.

As the fractious members reminded us last week, their capacity to accomplish even less than expected should never be underestimated.

Although the Republican majority appeared to have settled on a plan to allow the state-run district to subsist on a new $2-a-pack tax on city smokers, the levy became mired in eleventh-hour bickering between the leaders of the House and Senate. When the bill was finally left in limbo by the Senate, House Republicans promised to briefly leave their sand castles in early August, just weeks before the start of school, to clean up the mess and pass the tax.

Last week, however, House GOP leaders announced that they lacked the wherewithal to do even that much. So they canceled the special appearance and extended their unearned vacations through mid-September. While they urged Gov. Corbett to advance funding to the district in the meantime, the schools' ability to open on time and without further layoffs is once again at risk.

In an Inquirer op-ed last month, House Republican leaders Sam Smith and Mike Turzai promised to resolve the cigarette tax over the summer, boasting that by "doing what is right and not just what is easy," they were "leading Pennsylvania into the light." Presumably they will let us know when we get there.

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