How far will freezing pay go in solving Pennsylvania’s budget crisis?

Governor Rendell’s recent pronouncement that he will freeze the pay of 13,600 Pennsylvania state workers (this doesn’t apply to 62,000 unionize employees) is estimate to save about $14 million, combined with other cuts totaling $128 million.  But these wage freezes, along with legislators returning their COLAs, is little more than symbolic (and may even represent another effort by Governor Rendell to use state workers as hostages in budget negotiations).

All totaled, Rendell’s cuts from the enacted budget total a bit over $400 million, not enough to close the revenue shortfall, already at $658 million.  The latest cuts are not available yet, but the revised plan as of October is available online.  Note that even with these cuts, the current spending plan represents an increase of about $700 million over last year’s budget.

We have suggested spending like it’s 2007, and have identified billions in wasteful state spending, including the notorious WAMs. Senator Eichelberger has issued a cry for cuts from legislators’ spending, naming many of the same items we have identified – calendars, public services advertisements, taxpayer funded newsletters and websites, and more.  Eric Epstein also has some ideas for about $300 million in cuts