Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fattening Up the Lazy Pig

I hope that taxpayers nationwide are pleased with the use of your hard-earned income to feed the Pork Authority of Allegheny County, because that's where some of your money is going:

The Port Authority of Allegheny County now is $45 million closer to balancing its budget for fiscal 2005-06 -- but still $19 million short.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission voted 37 to 10 Wednesday to divert $113.4 million of federal and state highway money to help keep Port Authority buses and light rail service running until 2007.

So instead of using the highway funds to repair the roads, we are using it to put more wear on the roads. Brilliant.
"It is an important, temporary solution," said Stephen Donahue, of Bloomfield, co-founder of the city-based advocacy group Save Our Transit. "Without this stop-gap measure, we might not have a public transit system to fight for in a couple of years."
Exactly. If the Pork Authority were a person, it would be a beggar. After a couple of years of dropping change in the beggar's outstretched hand, you might well wonder when he is going to go out and get a real job. The Pork Authority needs a more dedicated, and more honest, source of income.
In March, Gov. Ed Rendell reserved $412 million of unanticipated state and federal highway revenue to help transit agencies in the state.
Thereby purchasing the votes of many of the idiots who ride the bus with me.
Port Authority's fiscal 2005-06 budget, which started July 1, relies on receiving $45 million of the diverted money, called a flex. Port Authority also counts on gaining at least $19 million in concessions from union workers to balance its $319.8 million budget.
So...the Pork Authority is balancing the budget on the backs of the workers. HA! I've always wanted to say something like that.

That 10 commissioners voted against the latest installment shows that some officials are growing increasingly frustrated with the inability of state lawmakers to resolve the financial crisis for transit agencies.

"We're just throwing money away here and not getting a solution," said Jim Scahill, an Armstrong County commissioner and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission member. "You're letting the Legislature off the hook."

Scahill was among a group of rural commissioners from Armstrong, Butler, Fayette and Indiana counties who voted against the measure.

And good for them. There is no reason that anyone other than the people who ride the buses, or the businesses and institutions who buy advertising on Pork Authority vehicles and shelters, should pay anything to keep the Authority running. Mass transit is a privilege, not a right, unless there is something in the state constitution that I am missing. Rendell and his cronies are treating mass transit like a welfare program.
Port Authority's current budget includes $229.7 million in grants, including state and county subsidies.
I, for one, would like to know how much of that grant money comes from the private sector.
We Move Pennsylvania, a conglomeration of labor and construction organizations, says the region represented by SPC will lose $82 million in highway work because of the money shift. The group did not respond to requests for comment.
Oh, what the heck. The roads will crumble to concrete dust without that money to effect repairs. On the bright side, people in the rural counties won't have to worry about construction delays when they drive to Allegheny County to ride the Pork Authority buses and trolleys that they are helping to pay for! See, there is a bright side to everything.

No comments: