It's the magic number everyone is waiting to hear - o.k., everyone who works in state government at least. But Gov. Rendell is keeping it quiet for now.
That would be the dollar amount expected to flow to Pennsylvania from the federal stimulus agreement hammered out in Washington yesterday between House and Senate negotiators.
How much Pennsylvania gets will affect whether Rendell will have to propose even steeper cuts to state programs --and whether he'll have to lay off even more state workers.
"I have an idea, but until I see the black letter of the bill, we’re not making any comments," Rendell told my colleague, Derrick Nunnally, this afternoon during a stop in West Chester. "My hope is, when the smoke clears, we’ll be about even with what is projected in the budget so we won’t have to make any further cuts."
Rendell said as soon as he has something in writing, he'll organize some kind of teleconference with reporters.
In crafting the proposed 2009-2010 state budget, Rendell had relied heavily on a version of the stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, under which states would receive an estimated $79 billion in aid. But along came the Senate earlier this week with a different stimulus plan - one that would roughly halve the amount of aid sent to states. Under the Senate's scaled-down version, Rendell warned, he would have to make steep cuts in state aid to hospitals and schools.
House and Senate negotiators yesterday announced they had reached a compromise, but the details are not yet known - including how individual states will fare under the agreement.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.