The State of the Budget

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Library Association and the Haverford Township Free Library
Governor Rendell and legislative leaders announced on Tuesday, June 29th that a budget agreement has been reached
The short version is the following:
• The Public Library Subsidy is cut 9% to $54.5 million;
• Library Access increases by just 1% to $3 million;
• The State Library is cut by 6% to $2.2 million; and
• Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled is cut by 6% to $2.7 million.

All in all, total library funding is reduced by $5.7 million to $62.5 million for all four programs. This represents a cut of 8.4% in total state funding. On the Pennsylvania Library Association {PaLA} website (www.palibraries.org) is posted a spreadsheet that compares this new budget with recent budgets (including funds that had been set aside in “reserve” over the last two years due to the recession.)

Some facts surrounding the process:
• the economy shows some early signs of emerging from the recession;
• June tax collections in Pennsylvania are higher than expected;
• budget cuts this year—while still bad—are not as severe as last year; and
• the budget process will conclude in June not October.

In his press conference on Tuesday, Governor Rendell announced that the entire budget would total $28.05 billion compared with this year’s budget of $27.87, an increase of just 0.6%. He scaled back his top priority—a request for a $354 million increase for basic education—and instead settled for a basic education increase of $250 million. The Governor spelled out how hard the recession hit Pennsylvania causing the loss of $1.3 billion in revenue. At the same time, he noted that “mandated increases in programs” totaled over $1 billion in additional spending (this includes increased Medicaid entitlements, mandated prison costs, and mandated pension payment increases.) Then the Governor ran through a laundry list of departmental cuts:
• Agriculture cut 11.7%;
• Environmental Protection cut 9.2%;
• Conservation and Natural Resources cut 11%;
• State Parks cut 7.3%;
• State Health Clinics cut 6.9%;
• Labor and Industry cut 10%;
• Libraries cut 9.1%; and
• other cuts within the Department of Education totaled $120 million over and above the library cuts (aside from the basic education increase of $250 million.)

For more information, please contact Richard Thau, Library Director:  thau@haverfordlibrary.org