Another Budget Trick Revealed

During our PA Budget Chat yesterday, we were commenting on how the the line item for School Employees’ Retirement – i.e., the state’s contribution to teacher’s pensions – was so low (below last year and well below the Governor’s proposal).  Indeed, pension contributions should be increasing rather than being passed on to future generations.

But as Capitolwire (subscription) reports this morning, this is simply another game:

Legislative leaders have winnowed their list of $180 million in possible fund transfers down to $156 million: $121 million from the Tobacco Endowment Fund to the teacher’s pension fund, and $35 million in proposed fund transfers or removals. [emphasis added].

This basically means the $28.05 General Fund budget should be at least $121 million higher, as they are paying GF bills using other funds (provided no other similar tricks, which is assuming a lot).  This also would negate the Rendell Administration’s statement “we increased basic education spending but cut education spending elsewhere” – as the largest line item cut was the pension contributions.

Capitolwire also notes that lawmakers are considering an increase in the Film Tax Credit – to make clear they aren’t beholden to “special interests”.