As Gov. Rendell prepares to sign a $28 billion state budget that cuts aid to libraries by 9 percent, or $5.4 million, things are likely to get worse. To Pennsylvania's 624 public libraries - whose state funding was slashed 20 percent last year - the new budget reads like a book with the climactic ending ripped out. In recent years, libraries have coped with repeated rollbacks in funding by reducing hours and staff, charging small fees for borrowing movies and CDs, and scaling back on book-buying and special programs, such as the popular children's story time. Now, librarians say, they will have to pare even more while library use is higher than ever - thanks in large part to the economy. A spokesman for Rendell defended the latest cuts as the necessary cost of the recession. "The state can't print money," Gary Tuma said Friday. "We have to balance the budget with what we have." [Personal Note - they say they can't "print money" but Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislative body that wastes incredible amounts of money solely for political reasons - e.g., both the republicans and democrats have their own separate printing departments - and that's just the tip of the iceberg].
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