Pennsylvania budget: 'The process is not going to be pretty'

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will pitch his budget proposal Tuesday morning, and a battle is imminent.

"The process is not going to be pretty. I don't think anybody expects it to be pretty," said Terry Madonna, a political analyst with Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.

After the speech, the specifics of Wolf's proposal will be distributed. Madonna said those specific numbers don't look good. Since 2009, state revenues have had a tough time keeping up with state expenditures.

"In this year's budget, there is a $700 million shortfall. That is because revenues have not kept pace with the projections, and there are increased cost in defined programs that the state has very little options but to pay," said Madonna.

Madonna said in addition to the budget deficit, there is also a $3 billion structural deficit.

In the past, Wolf has proposed tax hikes to deal with the deficit. This time around, Madonna said he doesn't expect Wolf will take that approach. Instead, he expects Wolf will focus on spending cuts.

"Close the prison, reorganize state government, I think we'll hear a lot about reorganization, cost savings and efficiency in the governor's message," said Madonna, listing examples.

It's an approach that typically sits well with Republicans, who control both chambers, however, Madonna said once the effects of those cuts trickle into local communities the going gets tough.

"No one you can talk to in Harrisburg believes this is going to be done until the very last moment. Some think it won't even get done by the June 30 constitutional deadline to adopt the budget," he concluded.

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