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May 15, 2013 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

WATCHBLOG: House sees Gov’s $28.4 billion budget as “ceiling”; no plans to include pension savings

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – House Appropriations Committee chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, said Wednesday that the House will not add more spending to Gov. Tom Corbett’s $28.4 billion spending plan, and will not count potential pension savings into budget calculus.

In February, Corbett announced a $28.4 billion spending plan that was pegged on higher revenues that have not materialized.  In light of the state’s revenue situation, Adolph said there is no chance to increase spending above that point.

“I think we’re all agreed that is probably the ceiling,” Adolph said. “We’re not spending more than we’re taking in.”

On May 1, the state Independent Fiscal Office projected the state would end the year about $220 million short of what is needed to balance the budget.

A budget bill will not move out of committee until June 3 and will not be considered by the full state House until June 10, Adolph said.

The House had initially expected to have a budget bill ready this week, but Adolph said the complexity of the negotiations will require more time.  The state House is not in session for the next two weeks due to the Memorial Day holiday.

Corbett’s plan also used $175 million in savings from a proposed overhaul to the state public pension systems, but there has been little legislative action on that front.

Adolph said the House budget would not take into account any savings from legislation that has not been passed – a not-so-subtle nod to the pension bill.

“You can’t put together a budget that is based on proposed legislation, so I have to deal with the figures that are in front of me,” Adolph said.

Last week, Corbett tried to spark some action on pensions. Without changes to achieve those savings, cuts will be necessary in other parts of the budget, he said, because pension costs are set to climb by about $500 million when the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Democrats have not been involved in the budget discussions so far.  They have publicly called for several changes to Corbett’s spending plan, including an end to several tax credit programs and higher levels on spending for public education and economic development programs designed to create jobs.

Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

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Eric Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com or at (717) 350-0963.

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