Pennsylvania is experiencing a budget crisis. No shock there. The state has been experiencing budget shortfalls for what seems like forever.
This morning, WTAE TV 4, Pittsburgh, is reporting on proposed legislation in the state House that would significantly cut funding for public transportation. The cuts would have a catastrophic effect on Pittsburgh public transportation.
The Port Authority of Allegheny county could lose as much as $100 million between the loss of funding coupled with the loss of revenue the proposed cuts would cost PAT through discontinued routes and service cuts.
It would mean a significant loss of jobs as well, forcing layoffs for a substantial number of PAT employees.
The loss of evening and weekend service would leave thousands in Pittsburgh without the means to get to and from work, school, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc. It would force PAT to raise rates (that are already among the highest in the nation) to levels that would disproportionately impact the poor and disenfranchised, as well as senior citizens who depend on buses and the T to get around town, and would leave many people stranded in outlying communities, where getting a cab or Uber is not a financially viable option for them.
There are an estimated 1 million marijuana users in Pennsylvania who spent an estimated $2.3 billion on illegal weed last year.
Translation: Pennsylvania missed out on approximately $585 million in tax revenue. That’s just one year.
That’s money that could easily solve many of Pennsylvania’s budget woes. It’s money that could go to educate kids, treatment for addiction, infrastructure repairs and, yes, keep the buses and trains running on time.
And that figure does not include the savings to law enforcement and the justice system from not prosecuting and incarcerating citizens for marijuana. It would allow them to focus on truly dangerous drugs like heroin and meth.
The state of Pennsylvania already sells alcohol. Why not marijuana? The most harmless and least toxic intoxicant there is.