LTE: On the State Budget

Everyone is talking about the State Budget, but has anyone actually looked at it? Please go to www.pennbpc.org/2010-11-budget-analysis and you will see that budget by Department with the amounts proposed and the percent of change. There is also a commentary on the items. This budget just shows the income, so one doesn’t know what they spent last year but that’s another discussion. In this letter I have written the numbers out completely so that everyone can more clearly understand just how much money we are talking about.
In my review of the budget, I think $1,145,157,672 can be trimmed from the budget, making the new number $25,128,236,328.

The reductions are simply based on keeping the current funding level exactly the same for nine Departments. This can be done on the grounds that this was enough to run these departments this year. They will just have to do the same again next year. My suggestions also include reducing two Departments by small percentages from their healthy increases, and last, by cutting a straight 10% from one Department.

The nine Departments that can remain the same as 09/10 are:

-Treasury

-Aging & Long-Term Living

-Education

If you look at some of the items in the analysis, it is quite enlightening. Under Early Intervention, the budget proposes an increase of $12,600,000 to add 1,200 children to the program (It does NOT tell you how much we are already spending on this). That sounds admirable until you do the math, that’s $10,500 per child. I, for one, do not think that is a reasonable investment. Head Start has been reduced by a mere $800,000 (2 percent). This program should be completely eliminated and save us $38,700,000. There has been a lot of research to show that Head Start doesn’t work as claimed and the return on the investment is nil (there is an initial improvement, but within a two or three years it has disappeared).

-Basic Education (state)

-General Services

-Insurance

-Public Welfare

-Revenue

-Environmental Hearing Board

Probation and Parole has been proposed at an increase of 7 percent. This could be reduced by 2 percent.

And lastly, let’s cut what is really killing us. The Legislature expenditures should be reduced by 10 percent AT LEAST. Our legislators have shown that they don’t mind drastically cutting other people’s funding. They should lead by showing their constituents that they feel the same pain we do. The first step would be to lay off at least a third of their employees’ hopefully just the ones with no skills who were patronage hires. Next, I would like to see them all take a pay cut AND a cut in benefits just like us.

These simple steps would save $1,145,157,672. It would give us a budget of $25,128,236,328, which is about $50,000,000 less than this year. Supposedly, we are $1,500,000,000 short this year. So, we still need to cut $1,450,000,000 more!

To that end, the Governor proposes several things that make me very nervous. He wants to:

1. Create more taxes on tobacco. Now, in all fairness, don’t you think smokers have been punished enough? Studies show that most smokers are poorer people. If they haven’t quit yet, to continue taxing them will leave them with even less for other important expenses, like food and doctors unless you hate them so much, you really want them to suffer.

2. The Governor wants to eliminate our current sales tax setup and extend it to EVERYTHING, even that $1 glass of beer after a hard day at work!

3. Mr. Rendell also proposes lowering the tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. When politicians start talking about giving something back to the people, you better start running. If our budget is so bad, how can he possibly give 2 percent back? That other stuff he wants to tax must REALLY add a lot of money to the pot!

However, the Governor does want to close the

The people have paid ENOUGH taxes. So, where to go for some money? The Lottery! According to their Web site, in fiscal year 2008-2009, the Lottery had sales of more than $3.08 billion! Now, I know that the money goes to benefit senior citizens. But keeping the state out of bankruptcy court IS good for seniors and the rest of us, too. We only need to take half and the seniors can keep the other half. (I did find it interesting that the web site notes that seniors received $910 million of that money. I wonder where the other $2,170,000,000 went.)

Anyway, this should give Pennsylvania voters something to think about (besides the fact that we really need to stress math in school. No one ever questions anything because they can’t do the math. Countering a Politian with math is much more effective than just yelling and screaming that you hate their guts!).

Please contact your Senator and Representative IMMEDIATELY and suggest some of these cuts AND let him know that if the budget does NOT pass by June 30, YOU WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM/HER IN THE NEXT ELECTION, NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY ARE.

Sincerely,

Diana Statsman

Scranton

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