Last week, the leaders of the four caucuses in the Pennsylvania General Assembly announced they had reached a tentative deal with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that would end the Commonwealth’s ongoing budget impasse. Both sides said they hoped to have the final agreement hammered out before Thanksgiving. Although the announcement was met with a sigh of relief, Pugliese Associates does not believe the budget impasse will be resolved by November 26.
The state government’s failure to pass a budget this year has wrought havoc on local governments, schools and industries across Pennsylvania and beyond. Without the precious state dollars that fuel the state’s economy, these organizations and institutions have been left scrambling to cut costs and find alternative sources of cash-flow.
Although understandable, one of the biggest mistakes organizations can make during tough times is cutting the consultants, contractors and lobbyists who can help them succeed. In fact, during a crisis is when you need these folks the most. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, here is why keeping a lobbyist on your team during a budget crisis can pay off.
- Lawmaking never stops. While the top political leaders in Harrisburg may not be able to agree on a budget, they are often able to agree on a host of other bills and resolutions. These can include compliance and regulation bills, measures to improve accountability or proposals to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. These items and others that are voted on during regular session days have the potential to greatly impact businesses and communities, but they’re often overlooked during a budget stalemate. Lobbyists can help identify threats and opportunities in these measures and can make sure clients are cued in to important developments.
- The crisis will end. Eventually, lawmakers will have no choice but to agree to budget terms. Public and political pressure will become too great for government leaders to continue digging in their heels. Concessions, compromises and agreements will eventually be made—even if they’re only stop-gap measures. Retaining a government relations firm is critical during these high-stakes negotiations, because lobbyists can work to ensure their clients are included in any final decisions – even before the final budget is passed.
- Legislative negotiations continue. Nixing or pausing a lobbying contract in the middle of an important initiative can have disastrous consequences for the outcome of a deal. Even though government funds may dry up during a budget stalemate, the negotiations and discussions over new programs and proposals do not. In fact, during a budget crisis, talks of this kind actually heat up, meaning your lobbying firm is working harder than ever on your behalf.
- Advocacy never rests. Businesses, industry associations and nonprofits hire lobbyists because of their round-the-clock ability to act in their clients’ best interests. When this advocacy is halted or paused, lobbyists for competing initiatives will seize the opportunity and step in to take advantage. This can significantly set back your cause, and in some instances, make it impossible to recover lost ground.
- Opportunities are everywhere. Pennsylvania is a big place. While Harrisburg is the governmental nerve center of the Commonwealth, opportunities exist all across the state. Pugliese Associates places great value on its client relationships and works hard to ensure their success, regardless of the venue. Our Harrisburg and Philadelphia office team helps clients find local opportunities every day, and our vast client base allows us to make connections between businesses which are often win-win. A budget crisis is never fun, but an experienced lobbying firm can help you expand your horizons to find new prospects.
Government relations is multi-dimensional, and although lobbyists play an important role in the development of the state budget, those who understand its limitations and have experience with the process are better poised to help their clients when budget problems arise.
If you’re looking for a firm that can help you maximize your opportunities during a budget stalemate, look no further than Pugliese Associates. Contact us today.