Advertisement

Pennsylvania needs a clear budget plan

August 29, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

Be careful about the promises you make. The public just might expect you to keep them.

That's what former Philadelphia mayor Edward Rendell is finding out now in his race for the Pennsylvania governor's job. His campaign needs to move beyond the idea that the state's budget can be balanced under plan that is vague at best.

Rendell promised to bring the state's support of local education back to 50 percent, so that local governments coulod reduce their school taxes. The cost would be $1.5 billion, which Rendell proposed to take from three sources: $469 million from legalizing slot machines at the state's horse tracks, $269 million from increased cigarette taxes and $750 million from the state's general fund.

But the cigarette tax option was foreclosed when Gov. Mark Schweiker sent it into the state's general fund, where state officials are now facing the possibility of a $1 billion gap between revenues and expenses.

Advertisement

Another possibility raised by Rendell: Cutting state programs. If this is a serious proposal, voters need to hear which ones are candidates for the chopping block.

Cutting all departments by a fixed percentage - an idea the Rendell campaign hasn't yet floated - should be rejected as a lazy and unfair way to trim the budget.

What his campaign aides have suggested is that Rendell might look at putting video keno in taverns, restaurants and bowling alleys around the state. Aides said Rendell might also consider riverboat gambling and casinos, though it's uncertain at this time how much revenue those would bring in.

Rendell needs to get beyond "might" and "maybe" and tell the voters what he wants to do. If citizens decide keeping taxes down is worth putting a gambling device of some sort on every corner, that's what will happen. But they shouldn't support anyone - Rendell or Republican opponent Mike Fisher - who doesn't present a clear plan for balancing the state's budget.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|