Commonwealth Foundation: Should State Government Borrow More Money?

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

While Gov. Rendell is fond of claiming Pennsylvania has a low state debt burden relative to other states, this ranking excludes a vast majority of taxpayer-owed debt. In fact, state debt is concentrated in off-budget state agencies and authorities, and local governments owe nearly twice what the Commonwealth does.

Pennsylvania taxpayers owe $115 billion in state and local government debt. That debt amounts to over $9,000 for every resident of Pennsylvania, or over $37,000 for the average family of four. These totals exclude recent increases in local debt.


For more facts visit

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Spending Tip: End Self-Promoting Government

Taxpayers paid $20,000 for a video and website of a man running around in a groundhog costume and getting hit by a car, and then experiencing coma-induced nightmares about his shadow, in an effort to promote Groundhog Day. Officials responsible for the website dismissed the cost as "nothing" compared to the $11 million in taxpayer funds they have to use for tourism advertising.

Lottery advertising is another example of state dollars used to market state programs and offices. Throughout March, the state is launching a 20-stop bus tour to promote their new Super 7 game. Pennsylvania spends $32 million each year to advertise the worst form of gambling, in terms of odds.

Pennsylvanians would be much better off saving for retirement, yet the state continues to use taxpayer funds to encourage bad behavior.

For more Spending Tips, read the full report, Government on a Diet: Spending Tips 2009, or visit

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Get Involved

Stay informed and become a Citizen Activist:

• Tea Parties events are being planned in the next few weeks, many on Tax Day, April 15th. Click here for Pennsylvania Events.
• Stay informed through your cell phone – text message the word ‘tax’ to 25827.
• Become a 10-Minute Citizen. Get info on how to contact your lawmakers, media, and be an active citizen by clicking here.

Visit to:

• Enter a video contest that offers a fun and rewarding way to raise awareness of Pennsylvania’s punishing tax burden. The first-prize video will earn $2,500, while second and third-prize winners will receive $1,000 and $500, respectively. The deadline to enter is April 5th, and winners will be announced on Tax Day, April 15th. Full contest details are available at
• Learn the facts about Pennsylvania’s fiscal mismanagement.
• Email your legislators.
• Send a video message to the Governor.
• Sign an e-petition to Gov. Rendell and the Legislature to eliminate waste and cut taxes.
• Receive a bumper sticker bearing the rallying cry Please, No More Taxes!
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