Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gov. Corbett's "family budgeting" is hurting PA

Four years ago, Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled his first state General Fund budget proposal and likened it to a belt-tightening family sitting around the kitchen table making decisions on where to save and where to spend.

So let's take a look at how that family budgeting idea compares with this year's House Republican budget proposal.

Simply put: this budget plan is based on either delaying paying the bills or simply not paying the bills at all. Not many Pennsylvania families can balance their budgets in that way.

For example, the PlanCon reimbursement program for new school building construction is behind by $1.2 billion and the 2014-15 Republican budget allocates only $10 million to it. That's like making a single payment on a 120-year mortgage. On that schedule, schools in the program will have to wait 120 years for a new building. Are you kidding me?

The Republican budget plan also suggests putting off this month's payment of $394 million to Pennsylvania's managed care organizations which help to meet the health care needs of some of our state's most vulnerable residents. Cash-strapped families know what happens when you put off making a monthly payment. You're faced with interest and late fees. And make no mistake about it, when the MCOs come calling for their bills to be paid, they're going to charge the state more money to make up for it.

As for higher education funding, four years ago the state cut their budgets 19 percent and that cut has continued year after year after year with so-called "flat funding." For families with students in college, that would be like telling the school: "We'll pay tuition for 4 out of 5 semesters and call it even." How do you think that would go over at Pitt or Penn State?

Standard & Poor’s warned that Pennsylvania’s credit rating would suffer if the Republicans continued to use one time gimmicks to “balance” the budget. This Republican budget is based on $700 million in one-time accounting gimmicks that supposedly balance the budget this year, but will lead to a $2 billion structural deficit in next year’s budget. That's an irresponsible way to budget, even for fiscal conservatives.

I just can't go along with the idea of fixing a budget deficit by creating a bigger one for the next guy to worry about.