January 16, 2015

Gov.-Elect Wolf’s Budget Task Force Finds $2.3 Billion State Deficit

Gov.-Elect Tom Wolf's Transition Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force Friday released the key findings from their review of the depth of Pennsylvania's budget deficit.
"After analyzing the budget documents and meeting with both the Independent Fiscal Office and the Office of the Budget, the Task Force projects that the budget shortfall will be $2.33 billion in 2015-16 and could grow to as much as $2.8 billion in 2016-17."
In December 2014, the Task Force met with both the Independent Fiscal Office and the staff of the Office of the Budget and learned from the Budget Office that the unsustainable measures used to balance the 2014-15 budget totaled $2 billion, not $1.55 billion.
They also learned from the Budget Office that in 2015-16 mandated costs are expected to increase by $1.8 billion and that a number of one-time revenues assumed in balancing the 2014-15 budget are not expected to materialize.
The report concludes by saying:
“It's clear that we need significant action to get Pennsylvania back on track. The decisions made in constructing the 2015-16 General Fund Budget will “set the stage” for balanced budgets for the years that follow.
“It is important for Gov.-Elect Wolf to immediately identify any possible cost savings in the current year and proposed budget. Unfortunately, given the depth of cuts that have been made over the last few years, there are no easy solutions. The Task Force urges the Gov.-Elect to direct his Budget Secretary to work with the others in his cabinet to take immediate actions to find cost savings.
“Gov.-Elect Wolf is developing policy proposals to tackle these long-term problems and transform operations to be more effective and productive. The Task Force believes all policymakers must send a clear message that everyone needs to work together to fix a system that is stretched to the breaking point. This fiscal crisis presents significant challenges, but it is an opportunity to transform the way the Commonwealth operates with a comprehensive plan that will endure and stabilize the Commonwealth’s finances for the long term.”
A copy of the report is available online.