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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Budget: WAMs in, Rainy Day Fund to be Raided

The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that increases the Governor's proposed budget by $148 million (which, according to Evans' news release, isn't much money). This raises the overall General Fund budget proposal to $28.5 billion. The amendment adds back in a number of WAMs the Governor had cut out (and are among the leading "unhealthy spending" programs)

  • $21 million for Community Revitalization
  • $19.5 million for Urban Development
  • $10 million for Local Government Resources and Development
  • $8.5 million for the Regional Development Initiative
  • $2.7 million for Community and Business Assistance
  • $2 million for Cultural Exhibitions and Exhibits

The committee also amended Sen. Piccola's furlough bill to not only spend $20 million from the "rainy day" fund in case of furloughs, but to pillage the entire rainy day fund to have available to spend (these would be subject to a two-thirds vote to pass, given laws surrounding the rainy day fund). The amendment claims the "economic conditions" of Pennsylvania currently represent "an emergency which endangers the health, safety and welfare of the residents of this Commonwealth in numerous and diverse ways which can be alleviated by a transfer of funds from the Budget Stabilization Reserve fund to the General Fund."

This may be the most absurd legislative language ever. The crisis referred to is the economy growing (but slowly) and the state having a surplus, with tax revenue growing faster than the forecast use in last budget. More absurd is the misguided notion that if the state only spends a bit more, it will "alleviate" economic conditions.

Here is some more budget info (pre-amendment)

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