No surprise here: Pennsylvania still has revenue problem

By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

HARRISBURG, Pa. — With just two weeks left before the June 30 budget deadline, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office has released its latest revenue projections.

And, yeah, Pennsylvania still has a problem.

STILL RUNNING LOW: Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office estimates that the state is facing a $1.4 billion deficit. It’s hardly a surprise, given several months of lagging revenues.

The IFO projected Monday that 2013-14 general fund revenues will be $28.54 billion. That’s $572 million below earlier expectations and $103 million less than the past fiscal year, according to the IFO.

It’s no surprise, as revenues have come in low all spring and appear to be headed that way again this month.

Next year’s revenues are projected to rebound to about $29.45 billion, but that’s still $870 million less than the estimates from February’s executive budget, according to the IFO. That makes a two-year difference of $1.44 billion.

“Revenues for FY 2013-14 unexpectedly fell below prior-year levels, an anomaly largely driven by temporary economic and technical factors,” IFO Director Matthew Knittel said in a statement. “Projections for FY 2014-15 anticipate a return to growth due to improvements in the labor market and consumer spending.”

Lawmakers are still working mostly behind closed doors to find ways to patch next year’s budget, with a pension overhaul and changes to the state’s liquor sales law still possible.

While hiking the sales tax and or increasing the state’s personal income tax aren’t considered to be on the table, other options include a tax on the extraction of natural gas, expanding the state’s gaming options to include online gambling and further taxing cigarettes, among several other revenue generators.

Staub can be reached at Andrew@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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