Volpe's Views: Legislative Reserve
The Pennsylvania legislature, sitting on reserves estimated between $125 and $200 million scattered over dozens of accounts, left a $300 million hole in this year's budget for the governor to fill.
Governor Tom Wolf filled it with a questionable deal that leverages the state farm show complex to the tune of $200 million in a lease-back arrangement and hangs the taxpayer out to dry for $191 million in interest through 2049.
With that kind of money in so-called "legislative reserves," often used for legislator's pet projects, it's offensive to the taxpayers to have to bite the bullet for this kind freewheeling deficit financing.
Republicans say the deal is unconstitutional, because the Wolf Administration didn't have specific permission to incur debt. However, the administration maintains the deal complies with the letter of the budget plan.
Besides the legality, lawmakers are dickering over where the payments should come from, the general fund or the administration's own budget. As always, the taxpayer gets the bill either way.