Budget hearings under way in Harrisburg

    Every department head will appear before Pennsylvania House and Senate committees in the coming weeks to justify Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget requests.

    Up first: Acting Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser, who explained Pennsylvania’s tax collections. “We do presently have a $243 million surplus” for the current fiscal year, he told the panel. “We are projecting, however, a $78 million dollar surplus come the end of this fiscal year.” That’s due to overly optimistic gross and personal income tax estimates, he said, as well as lost revenue from a federally-mandated tax credit.

    Meuser said he is optimistic about where revenue is headed. “Personal income tax, corporate taxes, sales tax, use tax, all continues – more or less moving in the right direction,” he said. “We are anticipating that to continue in [fiscal year] 11/12.”

    Corbett’s budget would increase the Revenue department’s funding by $7 million, to about $197 million. The spending plan includes more than $20 million for technology updates. Meuser said the expenses would be worthwhile, and will lead to “a higher level of customer service [and] much more [computer] automation” within the department.

    “It will allow for efficiency measures to take place,” he said.

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