Rendell: GOP budget would hurt tourism

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The Rendell administration yesterday kept up its attack on the Senate-passed $27.3 billion budget for fiscal 2009-10 by highlighting cuts is says would severely hurt the state's tourism industry.

Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, has proposed a $28.9 billion budget for the year that starts July 1, which calls for several new or higher taxes.

One of his administration members, Mickey Rowley of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said the Senate Republican budget would "cut tourism funding by a staggering 73 percent [and] would cripple one of the state's largest industries."

The Senate budget would slash funding for marketing the state's wine regions, for development of Underground Railroad sites and for promoting Civil War trails, he said. Tourism brings in $28 billion a year to the state, along with 140 million visitors, he added.

So far, the Rendell administration has attacked the Senate budget on several fronts, claiming it would close at least 35 state parks, shut down one state home for veterans shift more public education costs to local taxpayers and have other deleterious effects.

A Senate GOP spokesman, Erik Arneson, said the administration's "extraordinary and inaccurate efforts to scare the public simply prove that our common-sense budget is resonating with many Pennsylvanians. The governor is desperate to justify over-spending so he can raise taxes."

Senators said that the state must sharply reduce its spending because it faces a $3 billion budget deficit. They said they don't want to increase taxes. The House and Senate must agree on a 2009-10 budget by July 1 or many state workers won't get paid on time.


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