Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Budget Debate Begins with a Benchmark.

Budget hearings got under way at the state Capitol Tuesday with a look at Pennsylvania's economic climate and experts say it's not a pretty picture. Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, Dr. Mohammed Iqbal of the economic analysis firm Global Insights said 2009 will likely be another recessionary year, with 72-thousand more jobs lost in Pennsylvania. Iqbal says the economy likely won't start improving until 2010, making the recession one of the longest on record. The hearing's other witness, Ron Snell from the National Conference of State Legislatures, pointed out that balanced budget requirements mean state lawmakers can't do much to improve the situation. He says, “If you do what has to be done to balance the state budget, then you're either spending less or raising more revenue. Those are really the alternatives, aside from dipping into reserves. And either one of those is a situation that worsens conditions in your state.” Governor Rendell and most lawmakers say they don't want to raise broad-based state taxes. But some experts are beginning to question whether Pennsylvania can balance its books without some sort of new levy.

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