Gov. Ed Rendell ended one of the most contentious statehouse conflicts in recent history when he signed a $27.8 billion spending plan last night, the 101st day of the nation’s longest budget impasse.
The plan cuts overall spending by 1 percent while it adds $300 million that the governor had insisted on for public schools.
The budget agreement allows the state to begin issuing 12,000 checks to day-care centers, counties, social service agencies and others that haven’t received state subsidies since July. Many have had to lay off workers, take out loans or shut down for lack of funds.
Passage of the budget “guarantees our county social service providers get paid and our children’s day-care services are restored,” said House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne.
There is still reason for concern in Pennsylvania. The wildest gamble in the budget is the plan to fund state colleges, universities, and museums with casino money:
They have yet to agree on the details of a plan to bring poker, blackjack and other table games to Pennsylvania casinos. That would generate $200 million needed to help provide state funding to Pitt, Penn State, Lincoln and Temple universities as well has several museums, including the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
Frankly, I don’t know how reliable a revenue stream casinos will prove to be in Pennsylvania. Certainly, even as we struggle to emerge from the current Great Bush Recession, the PA State Legislature must begin planning for the next recession, when revenues will take a dive again. Gambling will certainly suffer when that happens.
As a side note, I’m always pleased to quote and link back to the Post-Gazette, my first boss. I used to deliver Pittsburgh’s morning paper every day before school. The Pittsburgh Press was still in operation at the time. Pittsburgh residents and residents of all the surrounding communities woke up the the Post-Gazette, and read the Press in the evenings.
I’m glad to see the Post-Gazette is still around. The Pittsburgh Press ceased publication on May 17, 1992.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com