Yes, the election is 5 weeks from yesterday.  And we at APSCUF need to be watching.

The poll out from former APSCUF president Terry Madonna’s center at Franklin & Marshall yesterday shows Republican Tom Corbett 4 points up on the Democratic contender, Dan Onorato.  APSCUF has endorsed Onorato (for fair disclosure), so our political people think it is in our best interest if he wins.  Hearing Corbett’s “no tax” pledge and his suggestion that he will cut state government if elected is a warning to us of potential cuts ahead if he wins.

Also in the news this week was an article in the, by Peter DeCoursey, on the state House elections.  As DeCoursey says, it’s not usual that there are 13 House elections close enough to talk about.  He talks about 13, and then references 10 more.

DeCoursey’s analysis shows the trouble the House D’s are in.  They currently have a 3 vote majority, up from 1 which they held as they took over the majority in 2006.  This time, the D’s are running against a wave of pro-Republican, anti-Obama sentiment.  DeCoursey cites the House D campaign committee as saying they have better candidates, a better message, and more money than the R’s running against them, so they will perserve.  We have to hope so, for the most part, but it’s not how I’d bet my next paycheck.

Why is a Republican governor and majority so worrying, when the state system has often done better in some ways under Republicans like Thornburgh and Ridge than D’s?  Well, look at New Jersey.  Last night, Gov. Christie made another set of anti-teacher comments, saying they don’t want to be judged, but allowed to continue working based on “just keep breathing” criteria.

Christie has proposed that all state employees pay 30% of their health insurance premium.

New Jersey public universities have taken a series of 4% cuts.  The faculty in those systems have taken 7 furlough days each of the last two years (that’s 7 days without pay).

APSCUF’s contract doesn’t allow for those, but it does allow retrenchment.  Imagine a Commonwealth where our budget has shrunk by 5, 10, or 15% — as some predict for next year — with a Governor unwilling to raise revenue (re: taxes) — and both houses of the legislature are of his mind and party.  It’s not a vision that says “we’ll be ok.”

So, start thinking about Nov. 2.  Think about your union, your colleagues, and your job.  No one likes more taxes, and no one likes government that gets in our business.  But a “small government” means budget cuts, potentially quite deep, and the health of our system will be in question.  Will we survive as public entities, as President Smith of SRU worried last week?

Will we be like New Jersey?