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“We all can do better.”: Auditor Gen. DePasquale’s plans to fix Pa.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's fiscal officials have spoken, and the immediate outlook is not pretty.

On Wednesday, the state's Independent Fiscal Office weighed in on the end of the 2015-16 legislative session, saying Pennsylvania will fall $500 million shy of its projected revenue.

A day later, Pennsylvania's Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, didn't do anything to qualm any of those fears, adding the state could face a "$1 to $3 billion deficit" next year.

Governor Wolf is still four months away from making his 2017-18 state budget proposal, but according to DePasquale, a Democrat, the state will have its work cut out for it to make up revenue shortfalls, and he doesn't feel raising taxes is the way to fix the problem.

"I have heard from taxpayers across the state," he said. "They feel maxed to the limit."

DePasquale is against raising the state's income taxes, which goes against what Gov. Wolf proposed a year ago, when he suggested an 11 percent income tax raise in his 2016-17 budget plan.

At his press conference Thursday, the auditor general outlined his plans for the upcoming year, and beyond. It was his first time speaking with reporters since he won his bid for reelection on November 8.

"I thought our team got a lot accomplished in our first term. I want the next four years to make that look like child's play," DePasquale said.

To do so, he says he is focusing on six broad areas to improve the Commonwealth.

  • Effectiveness of drug rehab options
  • Ensuring state and county offices protect children
  • College affordability
  • Job retraining
  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Economic issues for seniors

DePasquale added his office is already working on an audit of Penn State University, the first against the school, and plans on auditing PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.