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Monday, July 09, 2007

Budget Questions

Lingering questions/issues about the budget negotiations (with links to Commonwealth Foundation information on these issues):

  • What will be the final percent increase in the General Fund? The Taxpayer Protection Act—which has 30 cosponsors in the Senate—would limit spending to 3.2% this year, an increase of $822 million (to $26.9 billion).
  • Will the discretionary funds (WAMs), which were excluded when the Senate passed the budget, be put back in? These funds are used by legislators and the Governor to hand out to politically connected organizations.
  • Will the Governor’s “Pre-K Counts,” a program which encourages state government takeover of preschool be but back into the budget?
  • Will a budget deal include $850 million in debt to hand out to politically connected alternative energy companies?
  • Will a budget deal include increasing debt for Redevelopment Capital Assistance to fund projects that make politicians look good, but that taxpayers will pay off, with interest, for decades?
  • Will the budget include funding of the Pittsburgh Penguins arena, the Philadelphia Convention Center, and $1 billion in other projects tied to an estimated ten years worth of gambling revenue?
  • Will a budget deal include passing a transportation funding bill that includes $5 billion in new debt, dramatic hikes in Turnpike Tolls, and tolls on I-80 (which are likely illegal under federal law)?

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