Gov. Rendell to propose more cuts, House Dems urge COLA giveback

Gov. Rendell later today will call for an additional $100 million in state spending cuts, according to House Democratic leaders.

That would be on top of the $300 million in cuts Rendell has already made to keep the current $28.3 billion state budget balanced.

With a growing budget deficit and the prospect of tax hikes on the horizon, Rendell has scheduled a press conference to provide an update on the budget crisis.

This much we already know: November revenue figures rolled in at $93 million below estimates. The year to date totals are off by $658 million. That adds up to an estimated $1 to $2 billion deficit next year, said Rendell last month.

Also late last night, members of the House Democratic leadership team led by Speaker Keith McCall of Carbon County, Majority leader Todd Eachus of Luzerne County, Whip Bill DeWeese of Greene County and Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans of Philadelphia announced they will give up their annual 2.8 percent raise in an austerity move and are urging other House members to do the same.

The raises which bump the base salary of lawmakers by $2,152 to $78,315, went into effect Monday. Since the annual raises are written in law, any giveback would have to be voluntary. 

"The governor will be asking for more cuts," said Evans. "With that in mind we are encouraging all members to give back the COLA. We expect Democrats will do so and hope Republicans will follow suit."

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