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Corbett’s numbers guy

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Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

Who: Charles Zogby

Age: 51

Residence: Mechanicsburg, York County

Occupation: Pennsylvania Secretary of the Budget

Influential because: He prepares Gov. Tom Corbett’s annual budget and implements the spending plan once the Legislature adopts it. He also maintains the state’s accounting, payroll, debt insurance and financial reporting systems and programs.

Influential challenge: In advance of Corbett’s scheduled budget address on Feb. 4, Zogby faces the daunting task of determining how best to bridge a projected budget gap of as much as $1.4 billion — with spending cuts, new revenues or a combination of the two. The 2014-15 budget must be adopted by the Legislature by the end of June.

Influential irritants: Complicating Zogby’s job is the state being required to increase its contributions to two pension funds by $610 million this year. The state also is losing $300 million in federal money allocated for Department of Public Welfare programs.

Influential nonstarters: While Zogby has said he’ll consider various ways to fill the budget hole, he has ruled out broad-based tax increases and a severance tax on natural gas production.

Influential education: Received a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University in New York and a law degree from the George Mason University School of Law in Virginia.

Influential experience: Before becoming budget secretary in January 2011, Zogby served as the senior vice president of education and policy for K12 Inc., an online school curriculum developer and provider. Zogby also served as director of Gov. Tom Ridge’s policy office from 1995 to 2001 and as state Education secretary under Ridge and Gov. Mark Schweiker from 2001 to 2003.

Influential agent of change: While serving as Education secretary, Zogby helped put in place the state’s charter school law, performance-based education funding, a value-added assessment pilot program and school district academic accountability systems.

Influential quote: “We’re trying to have a budget that makes the kind of investments that the governor wants to see and looking at ways to generate revenue without going back to Pennsylvania taxpayers and asking them to take more out of their family budgets to send to Harrisburg.”

— compiled by Trib Total Media staff

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