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State faces another big, big gap; no-new-tax pledge still applies, so far

In this week's podcast, Holly and I half-jokingly asked Santa to get Gov. Corbett an annulment of his no-new-taxes pledge, because state revenues were coming in lower than projections and he might need some flexibility.

We should not have half-joked:

Gov. Tom Corbett's top budget adviser on Tuesday warned that Pennsylvania's tax collections will continue to suffer from economic weakness and said he is developing a plan to freeze some state spending to ease a shortfall that he expects will reach at least $500 million by the end of the fiscal year in six months.

Corbett has not announced what spending will be frozen, and obviously hasn't decided yet where he'll propose to find this money, but it does not sound like he's keeping all options on the table: Budget Secretary Charles Zogby told reporters that tax increases are not being considered.

Meanwhile, the state House wrapped up its business today without establishing an extraction fee on gas drilling.

We're not under the illusion that taxing extraction (or other no-brainer ideas, like cutting the legislature's budget) would solve PA's rather substantial budget woes, but we continue to think that the Corbett administration should be spreading sacrifices around the state much differently.

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