Lawmakers' procrastination causes a flood of problems
More that 13 months after severe flooding swept through the Susquehanna River Basin, state lawmakers have swept themselves out of Harrisburg to campaign, without approving flood aid.
Tens of millions of dollars worth of road, bridge, sewer and water system repairs will just have to wait until lawmakers get around to funding them. That won't be this year because the current session of the Legislature has ended and there are no more voting days.
Under the best of circumstances, funding would not be approved until the beginning of the new session in January. But even that would not accelerate repairs because they would have to wait for the beginning of construction season. And, because some lawmakers favor funding flood repairs as part of the general budget rather than separately, the funding might not be available until July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.
This is precedent-setting irresponsibility toward state communities affected by natural disasters. Lawmakers often have appropriated emergency funds to supplement federal assistance since the Hurricane Agnes floods of 1972.
The Senate favored a $150 million recovery bond issue, a form of loan, that is well within the state government's means.
House leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett favored an approach that precluded borrowing - which would have been ideal had they followed through on it. The fundamental issue, though, isn't whether the government borrows the money, but whether - and when - the badly needed infrastructure work is completed.
Meanwhile, after failing to fund the needed work, many of the campaigning lawmakers will be on the stump blaming others for a slow economic recovery.
When they wander back to the Capitol, lawmakers should adopt a protocol that mandates rapid funding for emergency responses, even if the state government has to borrow some money.