Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell says he expects next year’s budget to grow by about four percent or about $1 billion.
On a recent conference call, Governor Rendell said he expects next year’s budget to be slightly larger than this year’s spending plan, arguing expenses like Medicaid payments and the corrections budget are out of his control, and will automatically increase.
"We don’t control the number of prisoners that go into our state penitentiaries. The judges do that. And each prisoner that comes in has a cost associated with it. We don’t control the number of people who come into the Medicaid program. The eligibility rules do that and the economy does that."
House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin says that approach is irresponsible.
"The governor is talking a billion dollars in new and increased spending when this year we’re facing a 500-million dollar deficit. You’ve honestly just got to wonder about the mindset. It’s mind-boggling. Clearly there’s not a care about the people who pay the bills."
Through December, the state’s tax revenues are 250 million dollars below expectations. Officials are predicting a 450-million dollar shortfall by year’s end.
Miskin says even if some line items increase, there’s money to cut elsewhere.
Governor Rendell delivers his budget address February 9th. He and legislative leaders have vowed to begin spending negotiations earlier this year, with the goal of passing the Rendell Administration’s first on-time budget.