A budget built on fairy dust, unicorns and shaky math

ASSOCIATED PRESS Question, readers: Which branches of state government got more money under the newly passed budget? Answer: All of them, including Gov. Corbett's executive offices, which took in an additional $16 million.

Can’t imagine why anyone is going around praising the Philadelphia school budget package that promises to please no one.

Yet the Tom Corbett re-election campaign sent out an e-mail donation blast Tuesday that extolls the funding. stating -- please don’t read this while drinking hot beverages -- “Not only does this budget keep Pennsylvania on a path of fiscal responsibility and economic growth, it again invests significant state funding in public education for our children's future, ensuring they will be prepared to enter the workforce.”

This would be the whopping $15 million that Corbett and the legislature were able to provide our city schools under state supervision originally asked for $120 million. It’s surely an Oliver Twist moment.

Meanwhile, the touted funding package seems built on fairy dust, unicorns and shaky math.

Consider that part of the package depends on $133 millon in union concessions, primarily from the teachers. So far, those concessions don’t total a dime.

Negotiations aren't going to be pretty or easy. Said Philadelphia Federation of Teacers president Jerry Jordan: “My members are very clear that they do not want, nor can they afford, a pay cut.”

School funding is also predicated on Philadelphia doing a better job -- again, refrain from drinking hot beverages while reading this — of collecting taxes. Like $30 million worth.

Not to brag or anything, but Philadelphia is really, really good at not collecting taxes. If there were medals for such things, we would bring home the gold.

Except that we don’t. The city should have worked on this harde, and sooner, instead of waiting until Mayor Nutter's sixth year in office.

This budget seems the equivalent of doing your household budget predicated on winning the lottery, landing a massive raise, and a rich relative leaving you the farm.

The Philadelphia Daily News' John Baer notes in a terrific column that Corbett and legislators were able to find $75 million for prisons, $16 million for the governor’s executive offices, and $4 million for the legislature, which basically gets the summer off.

As Baer notes, state coffers had an additional $57 million in revenue, which might have helped our city.

In the end, we’re all going to be paying for this travesty. In so many ways.

--Karen Heller