Budget Dilemma in the Keystone State

Pennsylvania democrats and republicans went head to head Wednesday night in a TV debate tackling the proposed state budget.

With a deadline looming less than a week away, little progress was made between the parties. 

The state faces a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion for the current economic year, which ends June 30.

The republicans wanted to push a spending plan without any tax increases, while the dems wanted to raise taxes and make budget cuts, much to the ire of many republicans.

At the debate republican Senate President Joe Scarnati accused Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of using alarming strategies to sell new tax proposals, including the16-percent personal tax increase.

Budget cuts and tax increases will prevent state trooper layoffs and prevent thousands of children from losing their health care, said a defensive Rendell.

State workers will continue to work if a budget isn't approved but they won't be paid after July 1 unless the budget dilemma is resolved.

Rendell proposed $29 billion in spending for next year, while the republicans want only $27 billion in spending.

During the recession Pennsylvania pushed business away by increasing taxes, said Scarnati.

“We have an opportunity here in Pennsylvania if we do this right, this budget, without major tax increase and control spending,” said Scarnati. “We can be a leader in this nation in growth in the future,” he said.

Rendell defended new taxes approved as he was governor as fair and that Pa. residents will accept the new hikes.

“The public isn’t dumb,” said Rendell. “They understand what he choices are,” he said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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