Get ready for the big 'gimmick' state budget

Saturday, June 28, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Call it "the big gimmick."  An approximately $29 billion state government operating budget is likely to be based on a fast-growing amount of one-time cash items to avoid a tax increase.

The one-time items - derided by critics as gimmicks - include raiding off-budget programs, postponing bills and cleaning out reserves.

This year, Republicans are looking to push one-timers past $2 billion.

That's the highest they've ever been, not counting federal recession bailout dollars that came to Pennsylvania from 2009 to 2011.

Some Republicans acknowledge that the trend toward a tax increase is inevitable, since nobody in Pennsylvania's state government has found an answer for rising health care and pension costs. It also sets up what some Democrats are warning will be an even more brutal budget next year.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.