Thursday, December 25, 2014

PA budget nuggets

The passed but unsigned state budget holds Legislature and state workers harmless.

PA budget nuggets

In addition to reflecting Republican goals of passing on time with no new taxes, the state budget now sitting on Gov. Corbett's desk -- whatever it lacks -- keeps some things intact.

For example:

-- the Legislature remains untouched as a measure to reduce its size dies in the Senate; its reserve (slush) fund of $153 million in taxpayer money stays in place; and it's annual operational budget gets a one-percent boost to $280 million.

-- state workers avoid furloughs; some get a two-percent mid-year raise; and benefits remain good since nothing in the budget addresses pension reform that could impact new hirees.

-- the State Store liquor system is untouched; unionized clerks managed to fight off yet another effort at change.

-- the everlasting Philly schools fight goes on since a sought-after $2 per pack increase in the cigarette tax is not in the budget. It remains in limbo in a budget-related Senate bill facing a questionable reception in the House.

-- Corbett's inability to get his priority items (liquor reform, pension reform) continues though he appears to hold out hope for something, anything on pensions by refusing to sign the budget as is.

-- Marcellus shale drillers still rule as they escape yet another attempt to tax the extraction of natural gas.

-- Republicans still get to crow about fiscal responsibility, no new taxes, etc.

-- Democrats still get to rant about the need for more education spending amid budget gimmicks and fund transfers in an overall spending plan they say can't be sustained.

-- and the great divide of R vs. D on nearly every public issue maintains the stagnant status quo Pennsylvania seems to love.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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