The dying dinosaur media chronicles yet another Pennsylvania budget crisis in dry wire service reports on inside pages focusing like a laser beam on the $29.03 billion in general fund spending sought by Gov. Rendell — which, btw, would still be $1.04 billion higher than last year — with nary a mention that Harrisburg expects to spend more than twice that — $37 billion to be specific — regardless of what is passed.
This usually unremarked-upon spending is via special funds estimated for next year at $14.4 billion and federal money estimated for next year at $23 billion and which does not include stimulus money which was folded right into the general fund.
The state has 139 special funds to which money is directed from sources specified by law and their disbursements this year range from zero for the Energy Conservation and Assistance Fund to $2.58 billion for the State Employees Retirement Fund and $5.36 billion for the School Employees Retirement Fund.
Now, one would think that expenditures for things like pensions are set in stone and must not be considered in resolving the looming shortfalls, but then you would have to say that it is moral and just take from newlyweds, widows and struggling businesses to pay legislators like state Sen. Robert Mellow (D-22) pensions of $313,000, and bureaucrats like John Winchester salaries of $236,265 to administer the money,
And, of course, it is not.
And I would hope that all would understand it not just kinder but wiser to see government workers take a hit in the pensions bringing them down to $50,000 for the year, than see someone forced from their home or to shut their business, the latter of which would obviously cut the tax base even further would lead one to wonder how the state would end up funding these Cadillac pensions anyway.
Local government, btw, is expected to spend $67.8 billion on top of that next year in Pennsylvania.
A big hat tip to Nate Benefield and the always excellent Commonwealth Foundation along with PaIndependent.Com