While the Legislature is congratulating itself over holding the new budget to a 0.6 percent increase over last year’s spending, it still falls short of the needed fiscal restraint in the current economic environment.
Two elements stand out. First, the spending relies on Washington coming up with $850 million in Medicaid funding, which may or may not happen. Second, the budget includes spending increases for K-12 education and economic development. How typical. The Governor’s two pet programs will see increases despite overwhelming evidence that the return on ever higher education spending and economic development expenditures is minimal at best. No amount of evidence is ever enough to move the Governor and his allies in the Legislature away from wanting to spend more on these categories.
We can be thankful that there are no big tax increases. And it would appear the Port Authority’s plea for more dollars went unheeded. But given the games played in Harrisburg, we must wait and see if that decision changes.