From Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) “I am relieved that the governor is not calling for any broad-based tax increases, given our objections to that. However, future tax hikes are inevitable if we do not control the growth of state spending and borrowing. Medicaid and other social service programs are one of the biggest cost-drivers in the budget and the Governor has overspent in this area by close to a billion dollars in each of the last two years. If we want to preserve these programs for future generations, we need to take a closer look at how we can root out waste, fraud and abuse of these programs through measures like my bill to implement work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients.”
From Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon)–“This budget contains more than a half-a-billion dollars in tax increases on employers and other things. Although these are not broad based taxes, any increase is concerning. If we agree to his billions in new spending and borrowing, a broad-based tax hike in future years is certain. We cannot add $1.5 billion or more to the state’s ledger and also add billions more in new borrowing without consequences. We need to take a closer look at how we can meet the basic responsibilities of government at a lower cost to taxpayers.
“I am deeply troubled that the governor wants to spend so much more, while at the same time cutting programs that our local communities rely on. Cuts to agriculture, regional cancer centers, school safety and other local priorities will have a negative impact on our region for years to come. I am particularly disappointed about the $4.3 million in cuts to the Department of Agriculture in light of the progress we have made over the past year to protect the future of farming in Pennsylvania. We should not jeopardize all of the hard work that went into helping our farmers.
From Sen. Maria Collett (D-Bucks, Montgomery)
“I am glad to see that the Governor’s address prioritizes some of the issues I hear about most from my constituents – including investments in our DEP and environmental cleanup efforts, promoting a fair economy that works for all of us, and desperately needed charter school reforms.”
“I am especially thankful that the Governor’s proposed budget includes increased funding for the DEP, some of which is specifically earmarked for much-needed staffing increases. Our DEP cannot adequately respond to the many environmental issues facing our Commonwealth – including the PFAS contamination crisis in my district – without adequate resources, and I am glad to see that my calls for action have been heard. It also creates a new funding source for the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act. The HSCA funds the monitoring and cleanup of hazardous environmental sites across the Commonwealth. As I continue to work to get PFAS added to the list of hazardous substances that the HSCA covers, it is encouraging to know that it will be better equipped to manage its important work.”
“I remain committed to the Governor’s proposal to immediately increase the minimum wage. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is the lowest among mid-Atlantic states and it is quite simply not a livable wage. More than half of my district’s minimum wage workers are women and more than 90% are over 20. Nearly 50% are over 40. It is unacceptable that so many hardworking Pennsylvanians are forced to take on a second, third, even fourth job to keep themselves and their families afloat.”
From Democratic leader Rep. Frank Dermody
“Governor Wolf is showing the way to make Pennsylvania a better place to live, learn and work,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “House Democrats are matching his vision with our plan for affordable health care, quality schools, good jobs, a safe and healthy environment, and justice for all people.”
Joint statement from Reps. Seth Grove (R-Dover), Kate Klunk (R-Hanover), Dawn Keefer (R-Dillsburg) and Mike Jones (R-York Township), as well as House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion)
“The governor’s budget address we heard today was filled with flowery language but lacked an actual plan to resolve systemic financial problems Pennsylvania is facing.
“For the past few months, the General Fund has had a negative balance, forcing the Commonwealth to borrow from itself to cover expenditures. The governor has continued to mismanage his agencies and his budget proposal shows that he is planning to overspend by $900 million. We had hoped the governor would not only acknowledge this problem but would also work with us to fix it.
“Instead, we heard plans to increase spending in nearly every area of government, including a plan to borrow nearly $5 billion in a single year, leaving our children to pay off the debt. Naturally, when expenses go up, taxes would have to increase as well. Overtaxing Pennsylvanians is not the right way forward. Rather, and as we’ve seen over the past year or so, tax revenue actually increases when government lets the economy grow naturally. In fact, General Fund revenue is currently $158.5 million above what is expected because of this policy.
“As we enter the budget season, we look forward to further examining the governor’s proposal and the state of Pennsylvania’s finances so a responsible budget that respects taxpayers can be created.”