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Baer on why real reform probably won't happen

If you haven't already, check out John Baer's column today about how we've been through this movie, set in Harrisburg, before:

When it comes to reform the pattern's the same: public outrage over pension or pay grabs, scandals or late budgets, followed by demands for institutional change.

Suggested reforms range from term limits or cutting the size/cost of the largest full-time Legislature in America to smaller stuff such as making all lawmakers share the cost of their health-care coverage (like virtually every other taxpayer) or file receipts for expenses (like virtually every other working person).

But nothing happens on institutional issues because only lawmakers can change their institution.

Then, before you know it, there's another budget crisis and attention shifts from fundamental fixes inside the institution to its only annually required task, passing a balanced budget by the end of the fiscal year, June 30 - a task it's failed for seven straight years.

And after each failure come the cries: VOTE THEM ALL OUT!

But then there's an election, such as the recent primary, and they all get voted back in.

Our instinct, he says, is going to be to elect a governor who promises reform. But that's part of the pattern too. What Pennsylvania needs is to elect legislators who promise change, and we don't seem to ever do it.

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