Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell Tuesday signed a $28 billion general fund budget for fiscal 2011 after legislators worked through the holiday weekend to increase the state’s bonding capacity for redevelopment and establish a $1.55 billion capital spending plan.
The signing occurred just a few days after the June 30 deadline and represents the final budget for Rendell, who completes his second term in January.
Rendell called the spending plan a “good budget” in a prepared statement, while expressing displeasure with the many funding cuts made to weather the worst recession of the past 70 years.
The governor’s office now has the same funding level it had in fiscal 1997 and the government’s overall administrative costs are 14% lower than they were in fiscal 2003, according to state data. The fiscal 2011 budget is $1 billion smaller than the spending proposal Rendell submitted five months ago.
“Everybody dislikes something about this budget,” he said. “We had to reduce spending on many programs that are important to me and to millions of other Pennsylvanians, but there is simply no way to balance our budget without pain.”
The Democrat governor successfully pressured lawmakers to increase the state’s bonding capacity for local redevelopment projects to $4.05 billion.
He told them in June that he would not sign a budget without the initiative, which offers municipalities matching state grants funded by general obligation bonds. Legislators passed that bill, HB 2290, on Saturday.
Officials had utilized all of the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program’s $3.45 billion borrowing capacity through bond issuance or by pledging future bond proceeds towards designated redevelopment projects. The additional $600 million was needed to support new infrastructure improvements.
“Our expanded capital program will pump money into the economy, creating jobs,” Rendell said.
On Saturday, both chambers of the General Assembly passed the fiscal 2011 capital budget, which allows up to $1.55 billion of GO bonding capacity this year. Those proceeds will support capital needs throughout Pennsylvania. Rendell is scheduled to sign the capital budget and the bonding capacity measure Wednesday.
The GOs include $809 million for improving public buildings and structures, $225 million for redevelopment projects, $212 million for transportation, $200 million for bridge renovations and $35 million for flood control projects, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.