New Castle News

August 31, 2013

John K. Manna: Do lawmakers care what citizens really think?

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Monday is Labor Day, which once was considered the start for fall political campaigns.

That isn’t the case anymore, because campaigns seem to have no beginnings or ends, but go on and on.

And political polls have followed suit, keeping up with the swings in public sentiment toward politicians and current events.

One of the more popular surveys conducted periodically during the year is the Franklin & Marshall College poll.

The latest says that only one in five Pennsylvania voters believes Gov. Tom Corbett has performed sufficiently well to deserve re-election.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Corbett doesn’t have a chance of being re-elected next year. In fact, some of those who say Corbett doesn’t deserve it, may end up voting for him by the time the election rolls around.

The poll simply indicates that Corbett isn’t too popular among voters at the present time.

Compared to the state Legislature, however, Corbett is doing well. Only 11 percent of the voters say the Legislature is doing a good job.

When the voters were asked to choose from a list of priorties that the Legislature should undertake, passage of a transportation funding bill was placed at the top.

As you may remember, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill to fund highway and bridge construction and mass transit. The measure stalled in the Republican-controlled House.

The stance taken by House Republicans, some of whom say they oppose raising taxes for transportation, raises a question with regard to the poll. Will the poll change the minds of legislators who are opposed to the bill? The answer is probably not.

Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation imposed weight restrictions on bridges throughout the state. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said the restrictions are necessary because of the age of the bridge’s and the Legislature’s inaction on transportation funding.

Some people question whether this is a political stunt, but the fact is the restrictions are in effect. And some industries report the restrictions will cause negative consequences for them. But maybe this doesn’t matter for a Legislature that is always preaching how much it is pro-business.

Also, for a chamber that says it is close to its constituents, you might think it would at least take their opinions into consideration.