HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania may be short on tax revenues as a new governor prepares to take office, but a set of detailed transition reports prepared for him by the Rendell administration shows that the state's stockpile of problems remains as robust as ever.
Thousands of pages of the agency transition reports, a roadmap of sorts for Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, provide an immense amount of information. It includes the size and deployment of the state work force, their budgetary needs, the status of pending litigation, the state's obligations under federal laws and a host of "sensitive issues" that will demand immediate attention.
Rendell received similar guidance in 2002 from his predecessor, Gov. Mark Schweiker.
"What the next administration does with that data is up to them, of course, but Gov. Rendell wanted to make sure that information about the full extent of state government operations is available to the incoming governor," said Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma.
The mixture of raw data, recent accomplishments, legislative issues and narrative descriptions of the challenges ahead have been helpful as a starting point, said Kevin Harley, a spokesman for the Republican governor-elect.
"We're certainly appreciative of the fact they took the time to do it," Harley said. "They didn't have to do that."
Selected excerpts from the extensive documents give a sense of the job ahead for the governor and his team.
The State Police, for example, in a 244-page report, expressed concern that the number of vacant trooper positions may jeopardize public safety.
The State Police also discussed a looming increase in workload for the Megan's Law website, which provides information on convicted sex offenders, and described how overtime translates into massive pension obligations.
The Department of Public Welfare, a massive agency that is likely to be an early focus of Corbett's attention, said that the waiting list for low-income child care had been cleared in May but by mid-October it was back up to 12,600. It also said that child advocates were concerned that too many calls to the state's child abuse reporting hotline "are categorized as missed."
Environmental Protection told Corbett that the state's drinking water and sewage infrastructure needs alone amount to about $37 billion over the coming two decades, and that "the backlog of projects remains substantial."
State parks and state forests have a $106 million annual need for infrastructure improvements, according to Conservation and Natural Resources, among them "failing bridges; hazard dam removal, repair and replacement; strategic land acquisition; rehabilitation of recreational facilities; and remediation of acid mine drainage along the west branch of the Susquehanna River."