Government at its Most Irresponsible

More than a week ago the Pennsylvania state legislature passed a fiscal year 2018 budget and sent it to the state’s governor for his signature.  Pennsylvania’s fiscal year began on July 1.

The budget includes only a spending plan for the 2018 fiscal year.  What makes that unusual is that normally, government budgets detail both how money will be spent and how that money will be raised, but this budget excludes the latter.

That’s especially noteworthy in Pennsylvania because the state fiscal year that just ended on June 30 did so with a revenue shortfall of about $1 billion.  In other words, by the end of the state’s 2017 fiscal year, the Pennsylvania spent about a $1 billion more than it received in revenue.

Which is some serious shortfall.

Another reason the lack of a revenue plan is important:  because the 2018 budget the legislature just passed, based on taxation levels from the year that just ended, would leave the state just a little short of revenue to pay for its new fiscal year of spending.

How much short?

Somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion.

State legislators, though, thought it was more important to beat it out of town for the fourth of July weekend than it was to finish the job, so they said, in effect, “Don’t worry.  We’ll come back to the capital next week and finish the job by passing a bill with all of the revenue the state will need for the new fiscal year.”

Did that happen?

Would The Curmudgeon be writing about this if it had?

Of course it didn’t.  As a result, the situation today is that the legislature passed an unbalanced budget, in violation of the state’s constitution, and sent it to the governor to sign – as of this writing he hasn’t signed it yet – and hasn’t lived up to its promise to finish the job of deciding how to raise enough money to pay for the spending it authorized.

Leaving Pennsylvania with a revenue shortfall of somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion.

And if that’s not incredibly irresponsible then The Curmudgeon doesn’t know what is.

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