WHYY's PA Budget Forum

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    Click on the image below to watch the entire video.

    Click on the image to watch the video
    Click on the image to watch the video

    Watch to see State lawmakers explain why solving Pennsylvania’s $3 billion budget gap is not an easy decision.  This Town Hall Meeting was taped Thursday, April 30 at WHYY in Philadelphia.

    You can also download this Mp3 and listen to the program on the go.

    In February, PA Governor Ed Rendell announced that future tax revenues and fees are likely to fall more than $2.3 billion in the fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010.  Since that time, budget officials now estimate that the projected revenue shortfall has swelled to nearly $3 billion.

    This Town Hall Meeting was convened to help citizens get a better understanding of how the Governor and the Legislature plan to close the gap. The TV program has aired on WHYY TV and will air on other public television stations throughout the state. It was sponsored by WHYY and The Philadelphia Foundation.

    The panelists were state Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia, head of the House Appropriations Committee, state Sen. Jake Corman, head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Donna Cooper, Gov.  Rendell’s secretary for policy and planning and joining them via satellite link from Capitol Hill, was U.S. Sen. Robert Casey Jr. who voted in support of President Obama’s Stimulus Plan. The federal money that will come to Pennsylvania has sparked a debate within the legislature on whether that money should help off set the budget gap or thought of as a separate aid package.  The moderator was Nell McCormack Abom who host the Smart Talk show out of WITF in Harrisburg

    2nd airing of Tight Times, Tough Choices: The Pennsylvania State Budget planned for WHYY. This will be on our digital channel Y-Info. (Comcast 258, FiOS 473) on Thursday, May 7 at 9:00 p.m.

    It will also be available on Comcast Cable’s Video on Demand Service later this week in many areas.

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    They came. They talked. They worried.

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    Citizens in a break-out group discussing their concerns over the state's financial crisis
    Citizens in a break-out group discussing their concerns over the state's financial crisis

    By Chris Satullo

    About 100 citizens of the Philadelphia region gathered in the WHYY Civic Space Thursday night to discuss the worsening fiscal crisis facing their Commonwealth.  They were businessman and service providers, neighborhood activists, artists and young professionals.

    After spending an hour talking about their hopes and fears in breakout sessions led by a team from the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, they jotted down dozens and dozens of questions – some plaintive, some penetrating, some downright sarcastic – for the group of three state officials who had agreed to show up to be grilled on camera about how they plan to cap the current geyser of red ink in Harrisburg.

    (read more)

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    Tight Times, Tough Choices Redux: Pennsylvania Edition (LIVE BLOG!)

    Live blog from Thursday, April 30, 2009

    By Dan Pohlig

    Is there a governmental body that isn’t experiencing “tight times” these days?  Heck, is there a household or corporation that hasn’t had to cut back?

    Everywhere you turn, there’s more news about layoffs, program cuts, loss of funding, unemployment, bankruptcy and just pure budgetary chaos.  The government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania isn’t immune to these troubles.

    But unlike, say, municipal or local budgets which affect people directly with their trash collection, local libraries or recreation centers, or the federal budget which is huge to the point of ridiculousness but gets a decent amount of coverage in the news, no one really knows how the budgetary sausage gets made in Harrisburg.  Tonight about 100 people have gathered to learn a little about the budget, talk through the “tough choices” and grill some state officials about what’s going on with their state tax dollars.

    (read more)

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    Participants at the budget forum were presented with a overview of the state’s financial emergency. Steve Wray, Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, talked about why the state faces an estimated $2.6 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2009-2010. Since the event was taped on April 30, state budget officials now estimate the budget gap is more likely to be $3 billion.  Below is the document handed out to audience members. It will help you understand how significant the projected gap really is.

    Click image for readable PDF version
    Click image for readable PDF version

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    People Should Feel Empowered to be Heard in State Gov’t

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    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvNViO7oSyc[/youtube]

    The TV program is designed to arm citizens with enough information about the state’s financial crisis to feel empowered enough to take their concerns to their state lawmakers and the Governor. The program is being shown throughout Pennsylvania on public television. The project received funding from the Philadelphia Foundation. WHYY asked R. Andrew Swinney, President of the Philadelphia Foundation, to explain what he hoped citizens would get out of watching the program.

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