Rendell and the Missing $30 Million

Yesterday, Gov. Rendell told lawmakers that after Congress passed legislation to increase federal aid to states for Medicaid (FMAP) and to school districts – and also cut funding for food stamps in future years – the Pennsylvania state budget was $282 million out of balance. This number seemed a bit odd to me, giving the budget had included (against sound judgment) $850 million in FMAP money and got about $600 million.

I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty good at math. Good enough, at least, to know that this math problem doesn’t quite work out:

$850 m
– 600 m
$282 m

The answer to my curiosity was answered by Scott Detrow, with a parenthetical comment (emphasis added)

Pennsylvania banked on $850 million in federal aid, but Congress only approved $600 million. That, plus an increase in state medicaid costs, creates the $282 million deficit.

In other words, one month into the fiscal year, Gov. Rendell is already spending $30 million more than was budgeted.

Gov. Rendell also outlined his plans for filling the $282 million gap, which includes a 1.9% “across-the-board” cut from discretionary spending, $50 less in the basic education subsidy, and $70 million from a yet-to-be enacted tax on natural gas.

In contrast, 30 House Republicans sent a letter to the Governor demanding the elimination of $100 million in pork-barrel programs often call WAMs. Many of these line items had been eliminated in 2009, but were thrown back in this year, without warning.