Thursday, December 18, 2008

Newspaper: Legislative surplus stands out

While nearly every corner of Pennsylvania is hurting during the current economic decline, the pain has not reached the Pennsylvania Legislature, concludes The Mercury in an editorial published in today's edition.

The Legislature not only spent $316 million on itself last year, but it has managed to siphon off more than $200 million in taxpayer dollars in private legislative accounts.

Those numbers are sobering considering that Pennsylvania has spent $658 million more than it took in as of Nov. 30. The projected budget deficit is between $1.6 billion to $2 billion by next spring.

From The Mercury's editorial:
How can state lawmakers possibly justify keeping that much money in the bank when services are being cut across the board, when the city of Philadelphia is closing libraries and swimming pools used by children, and when places like Pottstown are forced to make decisions on cutting economic development and fire protection?

Pennsylvania stands out in its inefficiency and wasteful spending within state government. Nearly all other states return their legislative surpluses to the general fund at year's end. That's in any year.

In a year like this when spending is being slashed in municipal, county, and state-funded services, there is no excuse for the Legislature sitting on a surplus.

No excuse except the one we hear too often — because that's the way things are done here.
Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

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