Legislature still has math problem before budget is set

The Republican leaders who represent the majority of the state House are indicating the state budget will be signed by Gov. Tom Corbett by the June 30 deadline.

First they have a math problem to solve.

The GOP leaders are willing to spend about $100 million less than the governor has proposed. It is, however, $600 million more than what passed for this year’s budget.

Within that mathematical equation are some hot button issues that create the numbers.

The GOP leadership is touting increases in spending on public education, funding to hire 300 more state troopers and greater support for certain health programs, county conservation districts and the state open records office.

But still to be reconciled is whether the budget will, in the end, include all or part of three major proposals from Gov. Corbett changes to public sector pensions, liquor system privatization and a transportation package.

We are generally behind much of what Corbett is proposing, particularly his plans for liquor store privatization and transportation improvements. The pension system needs reformed to solve a long-term funding crisis, but there are legitimate differences on how best to do that.

The bottom line is that these issues have to be reconciled by mature problem-solving in the coming month.

We hope the Legislature is up to it, because there are a lot of long-term, fundamental changes in the way state government operates behind the numbers.

-Williamsport Sun-Gazette