Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Budget Secretary: FY 2016-17 Deficit Likely To Be $603.7 Million, Higher Than IFO Estimate

Randy Albright, Gov. Wolf’s Budget Secretary, Wednesday said in the Mid-Year Budget Briefing he expects the current fiscal year to end on June 30 with a $603.7 million thanks to lagging revenues and the expected need for up to $182 million in supplemental funding primarily for the Department of Human Services.
While he said the Administration was in general agreement with the Independent Fiscal Office deficit numbers, the Governor’s Office deficit projection was $103.7 million higher than the IFO’s $500 million  estimate.
The IFO is also projecting  a $1.7 billion deficit in the coming FY 2017-18 fiscal year.
Secretary Albright said there is some reason for optimism due to pent up demand as a result of the election and pointed to the surging stock market as evidence.
The Budget Office will be meeting with the agency secretaries later on Wednesday to  work with them to identify additional opportunities to cut costs, but not in an across-the-board way. He said the cuts would be made surgically.
Albright also acknowledged the Budget Office has already put “hundreds of millions of dollars” in budgetary reserve this year in anticipation of a deficit.
          In response to another question, Secretary Albright said the Administration has not means to prevent the layoff of 500+ jobless call center workers.
House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) told the media Wednesday the state is facing “a massive budget deficit” and needs to consider a broad restructuring of state agencies to save money, saying maybe we don’t need all the state agencies we have now.  
He said restructuring could affect schools, human services, prisons and operations of the General Assembly itself.
Rep. Reed said after the last two budgets becoming law without Gov. Wolf’s signature, the Republicans this year may write their own budget.  [Actually, they did do that several times during the FY 2015-16 and 2016-17 budget discussions.]
Albright said in response to a question about Rep. Reed’s suggestions, the Administration will exhaust any and all options to reduce spending and costs before seeking any additional revenues.  
With respect to additional revenue, Albright said, as Budget Secretary, all options are on the table.
Gov. Wolf lays out his FY 2017-18 budget proposal on February 7.
Budget Secretary: We Have No Means To Avoid Jobless Call Center Layoffs

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