Despite being a week overdue, Governor Rendell said he and other lawmakers in Harrisburg were “making progress” on passing the state budget and agreed recently to make cuts in the range of tens of millions of dollars, according to Philly.com.
Those cuts, however, include the severance of up to 800 state employees. The workers affected could start seeing pink slips soon, even before the budget gets passed.
“I regret that deeply,” Rendell said at a conference concerning the budget. The governor added that he would rather have rolling furloughs, but can’t without the go-ahead of the unions.
Additional cuts, which could save around $200 million, include reductions of workers from social services and scaling back expansion incentives for private companies.
Rendell and Republican lawmakers, who control the state Senate, cannot agree on a way to get the state out of its’ $3.3 billion deficit. That's the reason for the week-long delay.
Rendell wanted to temporarily raise the personal income tax 16 percent. He said the increase would make around $1.5 billion per year during the three years it is in place.
Republicans balked at that plan (maybe thinking about the still-in-use Johnstown Flood tax), saying that the tax hike would hurt families already struggling in the recession. They would rather see steeper cuts.
Besides the 800 that could lose their jobs soon, the budget deadlock also affects the tens of thousands of state workers who will not receive pay after July 17, but are expected to still show up for work. Rendell's office sent out information last week on how workers could apply for loans to pay the bills. After the budget is agreed upon, state workers will get their back pay.