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The Pa. budget: Susquehanna sausage

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Thursday, June 19, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

The sausage-making machines are kicking into high gear in Harrisburg as the June 30 deadline looms to adopt a state budget.

Pennsylvania faces a $1.4 billion budget deficit that must be closed. A variety of issues are in “play,” the euphemism of choice for “being held hostage.”

The same Corbett administration that insists the hike in the wholesale tax on gasoline was no tax increase at all now is open to imposing a tax on the goose that lays the golden egg — Marcellus shale gas extraction. Some legislators, Republicans and Democrats, actually favor a tax on top of a tax on top of a tax.

But the governor who promised not to raise taxes (but already has) says he won't consider imposing the tax he said he wouldn't unless the Legislature adopts the state pension reform plan he favors.

That would be the plan that Commonwealth Foundation scholar Rick Dreyfuss says won't address the pension systems' systemic deficit born out of a systemic lack of funding born out of legislative self-dealing.

Then there's liquor “reform.” The Republican Senate that has the intestinal fortitude of the end result of a flu bug when it comes to the Republican House's privatization plan favors a half-arsed plan that nibbles at the state liquor monopoly while nibbling seductively on the earlobes of organized labor. Trading a shale tax for the double nibbles is a nonstarter, says Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. Until it is not, we suppose.

Sausage, anyone?

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