Will the Budget Include an Independent Fiscal Office?

With much to jeer in this year’s budget one silver lining is the proposed Independent Fiscal Office.  That is, if House Democrats don’t kill the proposal. Language to create the office, which would act like Pennsylvania’s CBO, is contained in the fiscal code bill SB 1042.

However, now there is debate on whether the enabling language was a part of the agreed budget deal. Senator Pat Browne, who introduced the legislation, has threatened to block Rendell’s $600 million increase for RACP if the IFO language is scrapped. On the other side, Rep. Dwight Evans claims no promises on the IFO were made in budget discussions.

The office would be a victory for transparency and hopefully lead to more accurate and timely revenue estimates and budget proposals. In the past years, the current budget office as part of the Governor’s administration has consistently overestimated revenue projections and underestimated costs.

Having an independent budget office would make it more difficult for the Governor and legislators to “cook the books” with accounting tricks.

For more info on an Independent Fiscal Office, see this testimony from Maurice McTigue of the Mercatus Center.