The dominant factor
Pennsylvania is dominated, politically, by conservatives who inhabit the governor's mansion and have majorities in both legislative chambers.
Small government supposedly is a principle of those majorities, yet you'd never know it by looking at the commonwealth. Pennsylvania has the nation's largest full-time state legislature, a massive government bureaucracy selling alcoholic beverages and two highway departments rather than the one it needs. And, it's the only state with separate agencies regulating fish and game.
Lawmakers already have whiffed on reducing their own ranks, turning over booze sales to the private sector and consolidating highway operations under one agency. They have a chance to do better on fish and game.
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee reported Wednesday that merging the Fish & Boat and Game commissions could save about $5 million a year, after some initial restructuring costs.
A merger would cost 52 jobs, the committee found, but the Fish and Boat Commission had 381 employees and 51 vacancies as of last summer and he Game Commission had 700 employees and eight vacancies.
Whereas $5 million is a small amount in the context of a $29 billion state budget, it's $5 million a year every year. Lawmakers should merge the commissions.