Pennsylvania Budget Cuts Library Funding in Half
State aid to libraries would be sliced in half in a $21-billion budget passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly March 12. The budget was proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell to reduce the state’s $2.2-billion deficit.
Pennsylvania Library Association Executive Director Glenn Miller told the March 8 Tarentum Valley News libraries would take a disproportionate hit under the proposal, since the average Pennsylvania public library gets a third of its operating budget from the state, with some receiving as much as half. “There are going to be some libraries that simply won’t stay open,” Miller said.
Larger urban libraries will suffer as well. “I was stunned,” Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Director Herb Elish told the March 14 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Elish expects a $2.4-million shortfall, amounting to some 12% percent of its annual budget. “Clearly that’s not something you can absorb just by getting more efficient,” he said. “It’s going to have a real impact on service.”
Gov. Rendell has 10 days to sign the measure. Press reports indicate he may wind up vetoing his own proposal: The Philadelphia Inquirer said March 12 that the Democratic governor had asked the Republican-controlled legislature not to adopt the budget until after March 25, when he plans to unveil the second part of his spending plan, which may restore some of the education funds, including the library aid.
Posted March 17, 2003.