PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With Pennsylvania facing tough budgetary times, the size of surpluses that state lawmakers keep on hand was once again the topic of debate this past week as a legislative audit panel released its annual report.

The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission released a report estimating that the state legislature is sitting on a surplus of $189 million down from the year before but still millions more than commission member Pat Browne, a Republican senator from the Lehigh Valley, thinks it should be.

Brown believes lawmakers should keep a few months of cash on hand to pay bills and salaries in the event of a budget impasse:

“Most of that money besides that reserve should be returned to the general fund. And we will continue to recommend that as a commission. And I think based on conversations with leadership, that’s getting a more favorable response.”

Montgomery County House Democrat Josh Shapiro, chairman of the audit panel, says he favors eliminating the surplus entirely and instead giving leaders of the House and Senate some emergency spending authority if there’s a budget stalemate.

Reported By Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio.

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