The worst governor in the United States? Ed Rendell
Meet Edward G. Rendell, former Democratic National Committee chairman and a tax-and-spend liberal clone of Hillary Clinton.
If you want a glimpse into a Hillary Clinton administration, look no further than Pennsylvania, where Gov. Edward G. Rendell has taxed and regulated the state to death.
Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor, Democratic National Committee chairman and longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton, has completed three full years as Pennsylvania governor. It's no coincidence that Pennsylvania ranks at the bottom of just about every category of economic health.
During Rendell's tenure, state spending has grown to an astronomical $24.3 billion a year. And what are Pennsylvania taxpayers getting for their money? The state's economy is bleeding (the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute gave Rendell and "F" for his economic policies).
Pennsylvania taxpayers, especially the elderly, are losing their homes because they can't afford burdensome property taxes. Rendell has made property tax relief his primary goal in each of his first three years as governor but failed to deliver on his promise three years in a row.
Pennsylvania roads are crumbling or choked with traffic. Thousands of young people are leaving the state for better opportunities elsewhere, while tons of garbage from surrounding states flows into Pennsylvania. Corruption, greed and incompetence seem to be the three words most frequently associated with Pennsylvania government.
Rendell promised a "new Pennsylvania" when he took office in 2003. Many voters fell for Rendell's empty promises.
Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 importer of garbage in the nation in each of Rendell's three years in office. Rendell is proud of the fact that he's turned Pennsylvania into the nation's dumping ground.
Pennsylvania continues to have the worst roads in the country, according to annual surveys of truckers. The state's bridges are falling down. Rendell's own transportation department says the state needs to spend $500 million in each of the next 20 years to repair deteriorating bridges. And let's not forget that Rendell siphoned $530 million in federal highway funds to keep buses and trains running in Philadelphia (and keep those Democratic-voting transit workers happy).
Rendell campaigned on a platform to overhaul education in Pennsylvania. He's had three education secretaries in three years. It's hard to develop a plan to improve schools when your Education Department is a revolving door.
Rendell signed a $1 billion increase in the state income tax in his first year. He pushed through casino gambling in his second year even though two-thirds of the state's residents oppose gambling. Rendell sold the slots bill as a way to fund public education. The companion legislation to fund the schools, Act 72, was rejected by four-fifths of the state's 501 school districts. Even if the school districts had approved Act 72, it's obvious that gambling revenues would not bring in enough to fund the state's public schools.
So why will Pennsylvania soon be home to 61,000 slot machines? One might ask Rendell to explain why he has collected millions in campaign contributions from the gambling industry. What is the gambling industry getting for its money? Who has the governor's ear? Pennsylvania taxpayers or casino owners?
Rendell is sitting on a $12 million war chest as he prepares to take on one of two GOP challengers, former NFL great Lynn Swann or former Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton.
Rendell didn't do too much damage in his third year as governor. The only tax increase he could get approved was the $52 emergency services tax that almost all communities now take from the paychecks of workers.
But let's not forget Rendell's biggest achievement of 2005. He signed into law the infamous 16 percent to 54 percent pay raises for legislators, judges and other state politicians, including the governor. Rendell had an opportunity to side with the state's beleaguered taxpayers and veto the pay hike. He signed it anyway and praised the pay raise. It wasn't until Pennsylvanians started booing Rendell at county fairs that he realized he had stepped in manure.
Rendell did find time in December to veto legislation that would have saved Pennsylvania businesses and workers $1.1 billion over the next five years. Why did Rendell oppose the tax cuts? He said the legislation would reduce the amount of money the state had to spend. Duh. That's the idea of a tax cut. Less money for government to waste.
Rendell has also failed to curb "for-profit" insurance giants from raising rates by 20 percent to 30 percent every year. Two bills before the state Legislature are stuck in committee because the insurance lobby doesn't want them passed. Rendell and his insurance secretary, who is supposed to be looking out for Pennsylvania taxpayers, have been silent on this issue for three years.
Rendell promised to increase Pennsylvania's minimum wage, which has been at $5.15 since 1996. Three years into his term, he has failed to deliver on that promise. He even announced that he would never sign the pay raise unless it included an increase in the minimum wage. He signed the pay raise anyway.
Rendell has pardoned more criminals in his first three years as governor than any other Pennsylvania governor has done over the same time frame.
If you're a Pennsylvania resident who still feels the need to re-elect Rendell, look at it this way: A vote for Rendell is a vote for higher taxes, under-funded schools, skyrocketing health insurance, more out-of-state garbage, crumbling roads and bridges, state-supported gambling and more pardons for criminals.
And here's a final reason Rendell (who moonlights for cable TV's Comcast as a commentator for Eagles football games) doesn't deserve re-election. He promised the Eagles would return to the Super Bowl in 2006 and win it all. So much for Rendell keeping his promises.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas