HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The State of Pennsylvania passes a balanced budget every year, and every year it spends more than it put down on paper. How much more? Where’s the extra money going? Now, the State Treasurer is helping you see exactly where your tax dollars are going.
It is called Ledger 5. Treasurer Stacy Garrity calls it long overdue. “There’s a perception out there that people are hiding money that’s being spent and this way we’re shining a bright light on it,” Garrity said.
Light in the form of this website. The state rarely lives within its budget and when it goes over, it goes to Ledger 5 now for all to see. “It’s very user-friendly. When we set it up, I made sure that someone from Bradford County where I come from, could easily understand it,” Garrity said.
But most don’t understand that when those budget deals are signed and sealed, they don’t tell the full story. Over the past nine years, Garrity says, the state spent $2.5 billion more than budgeted. “Last year was $850 million so it’s almost a billion dollars,” Garrity said.
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Nearly all of the over-runs come from one department, which House Appropriations Chair Stan Saylor complained about earlier this year. “We cannot have a Department of Health and Human Services who every year comes in here and overspends their budget by a billion dollars. At that rate, you’re forcing the next governor and almost every legislature to raise taxes,” Saylor said.
Garrity says her office will now closely scrutinize the extra spending but will still cut the checks. “I don’t think we want to stop payments to our nursing homes or to our corrections officers or to our state police,” Garrity said.
Garrity may be forced to pay it, but Ledger 5 lets you see it. There are no overruns yet, they don’t typically start until January. The website will rely on information from the governor’s office of budget which has promised to cooperate with the treasurer.