Pennsylvania lawmakers’ music video hits sour note with critics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) said her daughter was the inspiration for her latest venture.

“Over the summer, my 8-year-old comes to me after camp and says, ‘I’m gonna show you the Nae Nae and I say, like a lot of other parents, what in the world is the Nae Nae?’ ” Kim said.

Kim not only learned the Nae Nae, she’s hoping constituents learn of House Democrats’ fight for a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drillers to fund education through a Nae Nae dance video that includes Representative Kevin Schreiber (D-York).

“All the reps in the video all strongly support an extraction tax,” Kim said, “but if we went and did a press conference, nobody would’ve showed up.”

The video shows lawmakers dancing behind the Capitol and shows them dancing with students in a school. It concludes with words on the screen pushing a severance tax for schools. Kim says the lawmakers spent two hours shooting it and she spent a thousand dollars producing it.

“No state dollars were used,” Kim said. “I used my own campaign money. I thought it was that important to invest in it.”

As with most things in Harrisburg, there are critics.

“It’s interesting that they’re using campaign money to produce this video, but posting it on the official Pennsylvania House Democrats home page,” said Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation.

Benefield opposes the video’s tax-the-drillers message, insisting that it won’t raise the revenue Democrats are suggesting, will cost the state jobs and drive up energy costs. He’d rather see lawmakers doing the budget boogie.

“It still is a silly use of time that doesn’t foster a productive discussion on what would be the effects of higher taxes,” Benefield said, “and why we can’t come to some sort of agreement to fund those who need it without asking more from working families?”

Kim concedes that the timing of the video could be criticized, but says she had the idea for the video in early August. She says because of scheduling, it took until late August to get it released.

“As a rank-and-file member, I unfortunately am not at the big table,” Kim said. “I wanted our message to be heard and I did it in a different way to capture people’s attention and I think I was pretty successful.”

But lawmakers and their staffs are still getting paid despite a budget impasse of 62 days. Anything that looks like they’re having too much fun will have some saying, ‘Nay Nay.’

“I think it’s on both parties and even the governor,” Benefield said. “What have they been doing for the past two and a half months or so since the budget was vetoed? It’s a lot of time off and very little time here in Harrisburg working things through.”

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