Pa. budget deficit comes into sharper focus

     Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol building on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

    Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol building on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

    The Corbett administration and Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office are on the same page when it comes to the size of the expected budget deficit in the next fiscal year.

    The agreement is in spite of a discrepancy in reported estimated budget gaps late last year, when the IFO reported a $839 million deficit and, about a month later, the Corbett administration indicated the gap could be as high as $1.4 billion.

    Philadelphia state Sen. Vincent Hughes, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, questions the governor’s estimate.

    “The administration has, over the last several years, and we’ve been public about this, has not necessarily been as accurate as they should be with respect to budget projections and what the numbers are, what the deficit is, and that kind of thing,” Hughes said.

    But Matthew Knittel, director of the Independent Fiscal Office, explained the Corbett administration’s estimate was higher for good reason — officials had more information.

    By December, one month after the IFO report, the governor’s team had learned about a big decrease in federal matching funds for Medicare payments.

    They pegged the hit to the budget at about $300 million.

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