With revenue nearly a half billion dollars below expectations, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett today ordered a $160 million spending freeze.
The freeze affects all state government agencies and commissions under Corbett’s jurisdiction, but not equally.
The funding freeze is not unexpected. Last month during his mid-year update, Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said such an action would be happening now.
At the time, he also said he was cautiously optimistic the commonwealth would end its fiscal year with a $500 million deficit. State revenue officials announced Tuesday that the revenue shortfall through the first six months was $486 million.
Seventy programs, including the governor’s office and the Chesapeake Bay Pollution Abatement program, will have their current spending ability curtailed by 3 percent. An additional 57 programs will have 5 percent of funds frozen, and 46 programs – such as economic development and teacher professional development – will have 10 percent of their budgets iced.
Corbett is also asking independent state agencies like the State System of Higher Education and the attorney general’s office to freeze their budgets about 3 percent each. However, he cannot order those agencies to freeze spending.