Friday, January 23, 2009
Back in mid-December, the Rendell Administration said the commonwealth's anticipated revenue shortfall would be $1.6 billion. But over the course of the month, that figure has grown by 700 million dollars and now stands at $2.3 billion. With the higher number, Governor Rendell now says layoffs of state employees are for the first time on the table. Rendell says in order to rein in the budget, everything will be on the table, "There will be some layoffs, and there will be universal pain. And we can try to get ready for it--and I don't want to hear whining. I don't want to hear whining. I think everyone has to tighten their belts." One thing not on the table is an income tax increase. “The legislature could pass one, but I am not going to submit a budget on February 4th that has a broad-based tax increase in it,” says Rendell. Instead, the Governor will likely suggest placing a tax on smokeless tobacco or on natural gas extractions from the Marcellus Shale. He also predicts the state will fill budget gaps with federal stimulus funding.