By Peter Calcara, Vice President - Government Relations
For baseball fans, it doesn’t get much better than that anticipated first pitch (especially after the grueling winter we’ve had) and the ensuing six months of box score watching. For a few days (maybe a few weeks) all teams are actually in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs. If you’re lucky, maybe your team’s success will last until the All Star Game, or better yet into September. The former commissioner of Major League Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti, who died just days after imposing a lifetime ban from baseball on Pete Rose, put the game and what it means to many in this context:
“It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the skies are all twilight, when you need in most, it goes…And summer [is] gone.”
The beginning of baseball season is also the time I like to renew a few longstanding debates with friends and foes alike. Which baseball park is better, PNC Park in Pittsburgh or Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia? Both are the envy of most other host cities in the country, with a few exceptions. How about best hitter? DiMaggio, Williams, or Musial? Home run hitter? Ruth, Aaron, or Bonds? Third base? Schmidty or Brooks?
The start of new baseball debates also coincides with budget debates in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett presented his spending plan for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, in early February – about the time pitchers and catchers reported to training camp. After that, several weeks of budget hearings took place, running parallel to spring training games, where state lawmakers reviewed the details of Corbett’s proposed $30 billion plan. With those hearings now completed, the state legislature’s budget season begins in earnest, like baseball.
Besides passing an on-time, balance budget, lawmakers still have a host of issues pending before them: state pension reform, liquor privatization, property tax reform, and municipal pension reform (can’t forget about that one!). All of these have major budgetary and fiscal implications in one way or another. The process is certainly “designed to break your heart,” and maybe your checkbook if you’re not carefully watching what’s going on, which makes PICPA’s advocacy efforts that much more important to our 22,000 members.
Like playing through a 162-game schedule, the PICPA continues to plug away on its legislative priorities. First, the PICPA will continue to be a thought leader and a technical resource to state policymakers as they move forward on spending and tax plans for the new fiscal year. Second, we want to secure final passage and enactment of House Bill 1513, which provides much need predictability and stability with the local business privilege tax. Third, we will work to get House Bill 359 onto the governor’s desk. This bill simply conforms the state’s annual filing date for charitable organizations with the federal law. It’s already passed the House and is pending in the Senate. Lastly, the PICPA will continue to fight the ill-conceived “Property Tax Independence Act” found in Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 76.
You, too, can “root, root, root for the home team” by helping the PICPA’s advocacy efforts. Simply plan to attend the June 3 PICPA Day on the Hill
and have your voice heard by state lawmakers. It’s the easiest way to access decision makers in Pennsylvania.
For the record, my vote for the best ballpark in the majors: Oriole Park and Camden Yards! Go Orioles.
Let the debate begin.