HARRISBURG - In the first public appearance by a Corbett administration cabinet member, Charles Zogby blamed budget woes on quick fixes executed by former Gov. Rendell.
"All the one-time means, all the gimmicks have been utilized. We've kicked the can down the road long enough," Zogby, the new budget secretary, told the Pennsylvania Press Club on Monday.
The Rendell administration, he said, relied too much on one-time revenue sources, transfers from a rainy-day fund and "accounting manipulations" that made spending levels appear lower than they actually were.
"All these fiscal realities have conspired to make the 2011-12 budget the year we get our fiscal house in order. The day of reckoning has arrived," he said. "No more reliance on federal stimulus funds, no more gimmicks, no more use of one-time funding sources.
"Instead, we're focused on core missions of government and making difficult choices to live within our means."
In a telephone interview Monday night, Rendell made no apologies for having tapped budgetary reserves during tough times. "That's what the rainy-day fund is there for," he said.
Rendell said he was forced to use one-time fixes because the legislature consistently refused to raise revenue, even through initiatives that had strong public support. Some of those, he said, include taxing natural-gas extraction, cigars, and smokeless tobacco.
Corbett has vowed to balance the budget without raising taxes, and Zogby said the governor intended to do it without using the one-time fixes that Rendell relied on.
Zogby declined to offer details of the budget his boss will propose next week, but suggested it will call for cuts in virtually every area of government in order to patch a $4 billion hole.
"You may see a few [areas increased] but I don't think they would be terribly dramatic," he said.
Zogby, who had been an aide to the last Republican governor, Tom Ridge, said state spending increased 37 percent since he left government eight years ago, while revenues rose 25 percent.
"It's not a revenue problem. We're not in a deficit situation because Pennsylvanian taxpayers have sent too little to Harrisburg; we have a spending problem," he said. "We have a budget that has, nearly ever year, had expenditures have outpaced revenues, and we need to bring those back into line in a way that Pennsylvania families can afford and that we can sustain for the long term."