KINGSTON TOWNSHIP — Tuesday marks the start of the fiscal year but the state’s new budget is sitting on the governor’s desk.
The 2014-2015 spending plan passed the state house and state senate Monday, but Governor Corbett says he won’t sign because the new budget does not call for pension contribution relief from state workers and lawmakers.
There’s also no tax on natural gas drillers and the state still controls liquor stores.
If the governor refuses to sign, the budget becomes law in 10 days by default.
A state senator from Northampton County says she voted no because she’s upset casino money is being taken away from property tax relief.
“It was a contract we made with the people of Pennsylvania and we’re breaking it. We’re pilfering tax dollars, I mean we’re pilfering from them to balance the budget, and that’s totally wrong,” said Sen. Lisa Boscola, (D) Northampton County.
The Corbett administration believes there’s enough money to keep state government operating, even without a new budget.
But the state’s budget problem could affect your weekend vacation plans.
Pennsylvania has 120 state parks and many offer overnight camping. But with no budget and no money the state could be forced to close the gates.
Rose Miner flipped pancakes and cracked eggs on the griddle outside her camper at Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County. she wonders if this will be her last breakfast at the park.
“The park is a nice place. Let’s get this budget passed so people can have a good summer and enjoy the parks,” Miner said.
Miner is scheduled to be there for at least another week, and she worries the lack of a state budget could force the state to ask campers to leave until a new spending plan is in place.
The state budget problem comes at one of the worst possible times for state parks. A long holiday weekend is coming up. Management at Frances Slocum says every available camping slot is reserved for the long holiday weekend.
“If they close the park, it will be a real shame and it will be real hurtful for the economy to the state,” said Allan Hancock of Burnet, Texas.
Hancock and companion Claire Nybro are finishing up a stay at Frances Slocum. They’re on their way to another state park near Gettysburg. The couple says they’re drawn to Pennsylvania state parks because of their affordable rates.
“We’re funding your local economy as well, so if you shut it down and we have no place to go, then we’re not going to be staying in Pennsylvania. We won’t be visiting,” Nybro said.
Focusing on the Frances Slocum numbers alone, there are 100 camping spaces. Nightly rentals range from $19 to $34. It adds up, and the couple from Texas says there’s more. They buy supplies, and snacks, like their breakfast pizza, in local stores and restaurants. The Pennsylvania budget stalemate opens up a wide range of economic issues.