From The Morning Call:
A Coalition Of Organized Labor Groups has recommended what it says are cost-savings in state government that would negate program cuts to public education and other state services. Gov. Tom Corbett makes his second budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate on Tuesday.
The CLEAR Coalition, made up of leaders from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,SEIU, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Pennsylvania State Education Association, among others, made its pitch during a news conference in the Capitol rotunda this morning.
"Are we going to repeat the same things we did last year that we know don't work?" asked Rick Bloomingdale, the head of the state branch of the AFL-CIO. "We are faced with an opportunity for change. We can continue to go backward or we can look forward."
With state revenues down and Corbett already promising a difficult budget season, political observers are bracing for new cuts in the administration's 2012-13 spending plan. But so far, no one seems to know where they'll be -- though public education and social programs seem to be good bets.
"We really don't know," said Dave Fillman, the executive director of AFSCME Council 10, which represents thousands of state employees.
The coalitions's recommendations start after the gap.
Fair Oil and Gas Drilling Statewide Excise Tax: $247 million
Close the Delaware Corporate Tax Loophole: $550 million
Close the Sales Tax Discount Loophole: $74 million
Right-Sizing the Management – Worker Ratio :$214 million
State Contracting Reform: $200 million
Consolidate Prescription Drug Purchases: $50 million
Rebalance Long Term Care: $200 million
Vehicle Fleet Efficiencies: $11 million
Cost-Effective Payment Methods:$50 million
Cut Medicaid Provider Fraud and Abuse: $60 million
Halt Wasteful Charter and Cyber School Costs: $175 million
Reduce Prison Costs While Ensuring Public Safety: $60 million
Improve State Tax Credit Programs: $30 million
Improve State Tax Collections: $231 million
Modernize, Not Privatize, the PLCB: $75 million
Increase Collections under Pennsylvania’s Unclaimed Property Laws: $50 million
Process Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Payments for Other States: $50 million
Leverage More Federal Dollars through the Hospital Assessment: $50 million
TOTAL PROJECTED SAVINGS: $2.377 billion
Some of these --- such as the severance tax -- are a bit pie-in-the-sky, while others tend toward the nebulous. It'll be interesting to see which, if any of these suggestions, become incorporated into the actual budget debate.