On Friday we talked in this space about local issues of some importance hanging fire at the end of 2011.
To be sure, there were plenty of postponements and disappointments in Harrisburg as well.
It's hard to rank them, but way up on the list is the gutting of state financial support for education, both Pennsylvania's basic education subsidy for local school districts and its financial support for higher education.
There is no question that a sagging economy has had a significant impact on state revenues, but Gov. Corbett's decision (rubber stamped by his legislature) to place an inordinate share of the burden on education strikes us as the epitome of short-sightedness. In Warren County the result was a reduction in student services and curriculum and the layoff of dozens of teachers.
State government could have eased that burden on its future with a new revenue stream, but chose to all-but-ignore it: A severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas. Every other major gas producing state has either a severance tax on production or a similar fee. Alaska, for instance, taxes oil and gas production to the extent that while most states, like Pennsylvania, were in financial trouble, Alaskans were contemplating what to do with a surplus. And while apologists in Harrisburg warned that such fees would send drillers packing and cost the state thousands of jobs, we haven't heard of any exodus of oil and gas prospectors from Alaska.
There were a couple proposals that were vetted by the gas industry (there are some businesses, apparently, that get to tell the state what they'd like to pay in taxes), but even those pitiful efforts were cast aside as the legislature turned its attention to its most important issue, keeping their jobs.
Just when you thought political pandering had reached its zenith, the Republican-controlled General Assembly drew a redistricting map that gave new meaning to the concept of party-preserving gerrymandering, with new congressional districts that have been described as mud splatters and drunken paths.
In all, not a banner year for state government in Pennsylvania.
Here's hoping 2012 provides a bit more leadership and a bit less political posturing.