Republican state lawmakers' reaction to the budget presented this week by Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has been mixed. Some applauded his bare-bones package while others wondered what surprises they'll see when the supplemental budget arrives in three weeks. We hope lawmakers can skip the partisan sniping and work on the budget with a view toward what's best for the state.
Last year's legislative priority was not the state's future, but an all-out election-year effort to avoid raising taxes, in part by cutting the state's $1.1 billion Rainy Day Fund in half. In February 2002 we said that there was no emergency that justified that, and worse, no plan to avoid doing it again in 2003.
Rendell's budget would take an additional $250 million from that source and $330 million from the state's tobacco-settlement fund, in part to pay a $320 million increase in state debt payments, necessary because of new borrowing by former Gov. Mark Schweiker.