Corbett: PA Budget Could Be Late, Might Include Fracking Tax

Public schools could face problems if state doesn’t meet deadline.

It’s that time of year when the immovable object of the Pennsylvania Legislature meets the … immovable object of the state’s budget deadline. (We realize that’s not how the cliché goes, but we stand by the characterization.)

Newsworks reports:

Gov. Tom Corbett says he’ll make do with a late budget for Pennsylvania this year and possibly renege on his no-taxes campaign pledge.

“Given the difficulty of this budget, I have allowed — I have informed — the legislators, we need to get this done, and we need to get it done right, rather than quickly,” said Corbett at a news conference Tuesday. “So, if we are not able to finish by June 30, we are not able to finish by June 30.”

The Morning Call adds that Corbett is demanding changes to the state’s liquor and pension systems as part of any budget he signs. Corbett wants to re-direct the pension money into education — but schools could suffer if the state doesn’t beat the budget deadline:

If the governor and Legislature do not pass a budget by the deadline, Pennsylvania school districts will be left with even more uncertainty. School districts are required by law to pass balanced budgets by June 30 regardless of what happens in Harrisburg.

“It certainly leaves us in a certain amount of limbo,” said Allentown schools Superintendent Russ Mayo.

If the budget stalemate goes on too long and Corbett’s promised increases in school funding do not come, Mayo said, the Allentown School Board will have to reopen the district’s budget and cut an additional 29 jobs for a total of 129 job losses next fiscal year.

 CBS Philly points out that Corbett’s budget chief isn’t ruling out a fracking tax:

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby indicated that with the exception of increases in the personal income and sales taxes, other taxes are in play, including the severance tax on natural gas extraction that Corbett has so far opposed.

“There’s multiple options that we can look at,” Zogby said. “And I think the governor’s willing to talk about all of those options except the exceptions that I’ve [identified]. I’m not ruling out a severance tax. You didn’t hear me rule out a severance tax.”

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  • Joe Jones

    Please correct me if I’m reading this the wrong way. Is this saying that Corbett wants to fund education by redirecting money that state workers are paying towards their pensions? Isn’t that a bit short-sighted? Where’s the money coming from when it’s time to honor the pension those workers are depending on? Nothing like kicking the can down the road. I sure hope I’ve got this wrong.

    • Dan

      Many states do this. Christie and several other governors have done this. They defer pension payments until a later date so they can spend money on other priorities. Pension payments will eat PA’s whole budget if they are not reformed. I think what is shortsighted is this attempt by some to always ask for more and more money in the education system and not reform how it works. If we use projected revenue from taxing fracking this year for education, it is possible the money would never materialize as the frackers could move jobs, money and facilities out of state. They already pay an impact fee signed into law by Corbett, why test their nerves?

      • Joe Jones

        Thanks, Dan, and I do agree about reforming the education system. Still sounds like they’re building a house of cards with our future security.