Post-Gazette’s Nonsense on Pennsylvania Budget

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette editorial board cribs Gov. Rendell’s talking points on the state budget, and pastes it into an editorial.  They state that lawmakers should not “balance the budget with temporary funds”, and somehow use that to endorse Rendell’s plan to spend more (and raise taxes) and criticize House and Senate Republicans’ proposals.

Here is the glaring flaw – both Gov. Rendell and the House Democrats propose using more one-time revenue sources to balance the budget than do Republicans. 

Here is the 2nd glaring flaw – both Republicans and Democrats use federal stimulus funding for education.  When the Post-Gazette claims “The trouble with that is two years from now, when the stimulus funds run out, Pennsylvania’s education funding will be back at 2006 levels rather than 2009,” they fail to consider what happens under Rendell’s plan. 

That is, the stimulus runs out in two years under either plan.  How does Rendell’s budget fill the gap?  He would basically force the next governor to cut education spending, or raise taxes again. (In his initial budget proposal he outlines 10% revenue growth in 2010, but close to 0% spending growth in both 2010 and 2011 – i.e. he expects his replacement to practice the fiscal restraint he won’t.)

The Republican proposals would provide school districts with a 12% increase in funding support next year, preserve some of the Rainy Day to fill the gap in two years.

Unfortunately, none of the proposals addresses the looming crisis in state pensions (something else Gov. Rendell will leave to his replacement), or the unsustainable growth in Medicaid spending.