Rendell’s Legacy of Spending

Here is my letter to the editor in today’s Wall Street Journal on Gov. Rendell’s spending record:

Regarding the contribution of Gov. Ed Rendell in “Four Governors on How to Cut Spending” (op-ed, Oct. 13): Gov. Rendell is leaving a fiscal mess for the next governor. The state operating budget increased 45% under Gov. Rendell, and debt held by the state and state agencies increased a whopping 78%. His overspending has fueled at least 21 proposed tax increases. Pennsylvania’s unemployment trust fund is $3 billion in debt, so far. Mr. Rendell also deferred the state’s pension contributions, leaving a tsunami in mandated taxpayer increases in future years, all the while relying on bailouts from the federal government to balance the budget these past three years. This foolhardy practice will open up a multi-billion dollar gap once stimulus money runs out after this year.

The governor fails to note real opportunities for savings, like the billions in welfare fraud and abuse identified by Democrat Auditor General Jack Wagner, school choice programs, or repealing the prevailing wage laws that drive up the cost of government construction projects, as 19 other states have done. Gov. Rendell didn’t think that the state could save money by ending the use of debt for pork-barrel projects-like the Arlen Specter Library or John Murtha Center, sports stadiums, resort hotels and corporate headquarters.

Nathan A. Benefield

Commonwealth Foundation
Harrisburg, Pa.