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Politics & Government

Fiscal Watchdog Hounds PA Budget Negotiators

The state’s fiscal watchdog issued another growl about the state’s absentee spending plan on Tuesday.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, said routine audits of school districts, starting now, will also consider the ramifications of the state budget impasse – like schools’ borrowing costs.

Finishing audits of all 500 school districts will take years, he said, so there's no exact estimate for statewide school costs to schools. That's why DePasquale said he’s putting negotiators on notice now. 

“Why do you think I’m announcing it now? To let the legislature and the governor’s office know that I’m going to use this as a way to try to keep the public informed as to how much that stalemate’s costing the people of this state,” he said.

DePasquale, a former state House member who served three terms, also opined on what he called a “simple solution” to stalled talks.

“I think if everyone locked themselves in the governor’s residence for a weekend,” said DePasquale, "they could do it inside of a weekend.”

His prescription for a compromise was vague. He said a deal could include a shale tax, education funding, pension changes and more convenience to transactions in state liquor stores.