HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With restaurants closed and businesses shuttered, it feels like COVID-19 has cratered the economy. However, the numbers tell a different story.
“With January $1.8 or $1.85 billion above projections how rare is that? I’ve never seen that in my 15 years,” said Greg Thall, Pennsylvania budget secretary.
Thall says the big three, which include sales tax, corporate taxes, and personal income taxes, are still 5-10% above projection. The commonwealth is flush with cash.
“The economy in Pennsylvania is doing well and it’s doing well on the broad base,” Thall added.
There are billions more in America Rescue Plan dollars from the Federal Reserve, but disagreement on how it should be spent.
“People are confusing the amount of cash we have in the bank right now as a budget surplus. It isn’t a budget surplus,” said Senator Pat Browne (R), Senate appropriations chairman.
Brown says, yes there is an extra $2 billion+ federal dollars, but expected increases on human service and education spending are already accounted for and Democrats should not touch it.
“We’ll be spending ourselves into a hole. Every dollar we spend we’ll be spending ourselves into a hole,” Brown added.
Thall insists there is $2.8 billion unaccounted for and useable.
“I don’t know if he’s trying to get too cute because it was technically appropriated into our general fund as part of last year’s budget, but it’s sitting there so it can be appropriated again,” Thall said.
“We respectfully disagree with that,” Browne said.
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We will begin to see answers on the governor’s plan to use the money when he gives his final budget address in less than three weeks on Tuesday, Feb. 8.