Pennsylvania Budget by Department Under Rendell

Critics (mainly, recipients of taxpayer funds) of the budget passed by the Pennsylvania Senate last week decry it for cutting spending, claiming it is “jeopardizing access to hospital care for millions of Pennsylvanians,” it “could force many cultural organizations to close their doors,” “could cripple agriculture production,” and “threatens to undermine the progress we have made in public education.”

If the rhetoric itself isn’t absurd enough, contrast that to my statement, “Those who feed at the trough of government spending are sure to decry the Senate budget as ‘cut to the bone,’ but the reality is that the budget represents a step toward fiscal responsibility after years of bloated spending”

Who is right and who is wrong? We’ll let the readers decide. Even after the cuts, the Senate budget would represent a 36.2% increase under Governor Rendell, during a period in which inflation was 17.6%. Among the big ticket items, there was:

  • A 28% increase in Education, including 38% in K-12 education spending (note that the federal stimulus will provide additional aid directly to school districts);
  • A 42% increase in Corrections;
  • A 63% increase in Public Welfare;
  • And a whopping 151% increase in Treasury (largely payments on state debt)

What do you think, does this represent a “barebones budget”, or “years of bloated spending?”