As the Legislature gets down to serious budget business with Gov. Tom Corbett, there is, believe it or not, some good news with which to start the conversation.
The state's tax collections in April beat the amount projected by Corbett. That money can be plugged into the proposed budget ledger, which had shown a deficit of several hundred million dollars.
The smaller the deficit, the fewer painful cuts are necessary.
The cautionary note to factor in is that the budget planners of both the administration and the Legislature have to act judiciously in these circumstances.
There are many hands out seeking any cash that becomes available beyond originally projected budget allocations.
Our two cents is that human and social services programs that have endured tough cuts in recent years and don't have enough other revenue streams to fall back on should have first claim to budget money that is freed up.
While there is strong support to plug money back into higher education and pre-kindergarten programs, it's unwise to put money into programs when it's not going to be there in the future. When federal stimulus money was plugged into public education programs a few years back with the warning that it was only temporary, the state took a lot of heat nevertheless when the stimulus money ran out and revenues to the school districts dropped.
Temporary funding becomes permanent by interpretation very quickly when it's taxpayer dollars.
And after all, tax collections are dollars from the people.
Hopefully, budget discussion leaders will remember that and act judiciously with their April tax collection windfall.