When the PA State Legislature begins its new session in January the budget is sure to be among the top priorities. All estimates show the state is facing a 2-3 billion dollar short fall in the coming year. State Representative Mike Turzai of Bradfordwoods is the Republican House Whip. He says everything needs to be on the table if they are to balance the budget. He says spending and borrowing have been out of control in recent years. Noting that in the past 6 years, the budget has increased by 40-percent or 9 billion dollars. In the same time period the rate of inflation has equaled only 19.5 percent. He says the state has also pushed its annual debt service to more than one billion dollars a year. He says the economic downturn has exacerbated the problem but it was already going to be a bad year.
Turzai says he hopes revenue projections in 2009 will not be overly optimistic. He says this year's projections were out of line and that has made the monthly revenue shortfalls look worse than they should. He says the state's budget crisis is less a product of a slowing economy and more an issue of over spending in the past.
Turzai says he thinks there are several places to begin the search for spending cuts. He says he would start at the Department of community and economic development and the department of labor and industry. He says there are also a number of quazi state agencies that have not had their budgets scrutinized in years.
Turzai says this does not have to be an ugly fight. He says several lawmakers have spoken to him saying they are behind him on budget cutting efforts because they know sacrifices need to be made.