Financing For Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 Connector Concerns Auditor General

Map of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Friday that an unusual plan to finance construction of the I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike connection “raises alarms” and may prompt an investigation by his office.

DePasquale said he was especially interested in why an entity was created to broker the deal, in which wealthy foreign investors would lend the turnpike $200 million in exchange for possible permanent residence in the United States.

DePasquale said his office was legally bound to wait until a transaction is completed before launching an audit, so “it may be several months or longer” before he formally investigates the turnpike plan.

“I am going to follow this situation carefully,” DePasquale said.  “It raises some alarms.  I’m not taking a position that it’s wrong yet. . . . We’ll wait till the issue is ripe for an audit.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130511_Financing_for_turnpike_I-95_connector_concerns_auditor_general.html#KbbfJ65OCH8owKzj.99

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Report: Pa. House Bill To Abolish School Property Taxes Would Fall $1.5 Billion Short

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Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — A House bill to eliminate all school property taxes would fall $1.5 billion short of generating enough money to replace the revenue existing property taxes raise, according to a report from Pennsylvania‘s Independent Fiscal Office.

“The IFO has confirmed the views I held in June,” when the bill was tabled, said Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, who released the report over the weekend. “House Bill 1776 simply does not raise the revenue it claims to provide.”

Sponsors of the bill estimated it would raise about $10 billion a year by increasing the state’s income tax rate to 4 percent from 3.04 percent and the state sales tax rate to 7 percent from 6 percent.

Allegheny County‘s rate, already at 7 percent, would jump to 8 percent.

Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania Enacting A Spending Freeze To Keep Budget Balanced!

The temperature isn’t the only thing freezing in Pennsylvania:

Gov. Tom Corbett’s Budget Secretary, Charles Zogby, said today state revenues are on track to miss projections that the current budget was built on by $500 million this fiscal year.

That revenue shortfall, Zogby said, has led Corbett to task him with drawing up options for a mid-year freeze on some state spending to try to keep the overall $27.1 billion general fund budget in balance. He also said it creates a scenario in which there will likely be scant resources for any spending increases in fiscal year 2012-13, which begins July 1.

Read more : http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/12/state_revenues_expected_to_be.html

Governor Corbett Forms Advisory Council On Privatization And Innovation

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As promised in his budget address, Governor Tom Corbett today announced he has created a new Governor’s Advisory Council on Privatization and Innovation to explore if any functions now performed by state government might be better and more cost-effectively performed by the private sector.

“We have an obligation to taxpayers to find new and innovative ways to make government more efficient,” Governor Corbett said. “This panel will further evaluate potential privatization, public-private partnerships or managed-competition opportunities with the ultimate goal of streamlining government and saving taxpayers’ dollars.”…

Click here to read the rest of the article: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/governor-corbett-forms-advisory-council-on-privatization-and-innovation-130798908.html

PA House Speaker Sam Smith Wants To Reduce House Size 25 Percent!

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Now this is something I agree with 11o percent!  Reduce the porkulous PA state government to something we can afford and that is SIZE appropriate for a state with 12.7 million residents!

Speaker of the House, Jefferson County Republican, Sam Smith has introduced legislation to cut the number of members in the PA House of Representatives from 203 to 153.  WOOHOO!  That is a good start and would save millions of dollars!  So far, fifty-nine co-sponsors have boarded the train to fiscal sanity!

Pennsylvania State Workers Have Bad Case Of The Jitters – Layoffs Loom Again

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Many state workers fear that Tom Corbett will keep his pledge to downsize the number of state employees by a 10% across the board cut as promised during his campaign.  Governor-elect Corbett wants to review the funding for each state program to make sure they are operating correctly. 

The Service Employees Union has prepared a list of nonpersonnel cost-saving suggestions that could save Pennsylvania millions of dollars.  The same union has a large number of employees that will qualify for retirement next year thereby eliminating workers by attrition instead of layoffs.

Pennsylvania has a huge pension crisis looming on the horizon along with other financial problems that are recession related.  Hard choices will need to be made to cover the multi-billion-dollar budget gap.  Early retirement incentives are being offered to state employees as a way to cut the state’s workforce.

Pennsylvania has the second largest state government while being the sixth largest state in population.  Many hard choices will need to be made to get Pennsylvania’s financial house in order.