Pennsylvania Budget: What’s at Stake

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, it may be pretty difficult for you to digest any local news currently. The state budget negotiations have stolen the headlines in the print and broadcast media, though, unfortunately, given the budget’s current impasse, all incoming updates have not provided much information in terms of…well, updates. Since the budget is stalled (for now), it is useful to reflect on some of critical components being discussed by the legislators – specifically the continuous slinging of the C-word: cuts.

On the Senate side, Bill 850 proposes harsh funding cuts to many statewide programs, including the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Elm and Main Street Assistance Programs. These programs target residential areas in close proximity to commercial downtown districts, promoting urban revitalization and funneling resources to community development. Just this year, the Easton Main Street Initiative embarked on a project to increase business visibility through facade enhancements and signage updates, with the help of matching grants from DCED funding. The Main Street initiatives have been the cornerstone of sustainable development, and they are vital to the smart growth mission promoted by RenewLV.

But the spotlight remains heavily lit on the House, which – presumably frustrated over the missed July 1st deadline – has threatened to put out a cuts-heavy plan intended to test the public’s willingness to accept severely decreased funds for core services.

Given that so much is at stake and that glimmers of compromise are few and far between, it is important to stay on top of the negotiations process with the Commonwealth’s budget.

For candid and thorough coverage, some of the most excellent reporting has come out of the social media world. On the blog front, the Morning Call’s Capitol Ideas with John Micek has not only provided consistent updates, but also behind-the-scenes scoop on the State Capitol rumblings. And stretching further into the social networking world, for those in need of real-time updates neatly packaged into 140-word snippets, the Twitter sphere has been abuzz with the latest news of caucus meetings and legislative debates. The Morning Call published a story a few weeks ago that documented the real spars over public policy between legislative staffers in Harrisburg, all taking place in the micro-blogging world. And now, Twitter has provided the public with a continuous, uninterrupted stream of information from legislative aides, Harrisburg insiders, and the reporters assigned to stakeout duty. Once again, John Micek at Capitol_Ideas proves himself to be king of the social networking world with his speedy mobile updates, but additional fruitful commentary has come from Steve Miskin – handle Sam1963 – spokesman for House Minority Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson), as well as Bob Caton, spokesman for House Speaker Keith McCall (D-Carbon). The web sources have been a great complement to traditional media in keeping score on the latest negotiations.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to follow RenewLV on Twitter at

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on July 9, 2009, in Transportation. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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