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Local Politics

Budget Update: State Spending Out of Control

The Pennsylvania state government is spending money it doesn’t have. In fact, for the fiscal year 2019-20, the state expects to overspend its budget by …

… wait for it …

$779 million!

Pennsylvania State Government Overspending

According to a report Thursday from Commonwealth Foundation, the semi-annual state budget briefing and report released shows that lawmakers in Harrisburg have a spending problem.

The 2019-20 budget originally called for $34 billion in expenses. But now, the state will need another $779 million to cover this year’s costs.

They keep spending way more money than they have. And now, another big problem, it’s losing revenue streams faster than it can tax you into the poor house.

So, where’s the money going?

The state blames the short budget on costs in the Dept. of Human Services. It’s also losing money on the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Here’s a slide from the Office of Budget’s semi-annual presentation detailing problems with the Lottery:

pennsylvania lottery fund shortages

And now you can count on even less revenue. After the state cut off its own revenue by raising the legal smoking age to 21 this summer, the federal government did us one better by making that the law of the land immediately.

So, there goes money from the cigarette tax on packs of smokes bought by people between the ages of 18-20. It’s dirty money, but we didn’t write the rules.

Less for More

These spending numbers from Harrisburg are bad. But what’s worse is that here in Schuylkill County, we seem to get less and less even though we contribute more and more to the swamp’s coffers.

Remember, we were recently told that a project to rehab The Grade (Route 61 from Saint Clair to Frackville) would be severely under-funded. And also don’t forget that last year we learned that money collected on the state’s gas tax — money intended to fix our terrible roads — had to be redirected to the State Police.

Of course, let’s not forget the proposal that would shift the cost of State Police coverage in municipalities without their own police force onto the taxpayers.

One of the ways the state believes it can save money is due to a lower prison population. In the last 5 years, there are 4,900 less people in state prisons. This means the state can close one of its correctional facilities.

But who really benefits from that? It’ll crush the local community where the prison’s located. Hundreds of people will lose jobs. Businesses that serve those workers will close or struggle to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers continue to collect handsome salaries and costly benefits packages. And remember our recent report on the pension a guy like State Sen. Dave Argall will collect when he eventually retires.

Funny how the cuts in spending never come at their expense … just yours.


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