House GOP Leader Sam Smith: No Reason for State Tax Increase

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Pennsylvania is now embroiled in the longest budget stalemate since 1991. A budget bill is finally in position to go to a conference committee – typically one of the last steps before a budget agreement is reached among members of the House and Senate and the governor.

So what’s taking so long?

While the governor has claimed to have cut $2 billion in spending from last year’s $28 billion budget, he has only shifted those dollars to his own spending priorities as he and his (mainly House) Democrat allies are ighting for and insisting on an outlandish and wasteful budget that
spends $29 billion – yes, that’s $29 billion when last year’s revenues were only $25 billion. It is ridiculous and has the potential, even with federal Stimulus money, to create a $2 billion deficit.

House Republicans support a $27.3 billion balanced budget plan that ensures revenues to fund core government services will be available not just this year, but for at least three years to help mitigate the need for a tax increase in the future.

Bottom line:

Republicans are looking to spend within our means. Democrats are voting to spend more and tax more.

Republicans are fighting what amounts to an attack on
Pennsylvania’s middle-class, working families. Democrats are fighting for a $4 million-a-day tax increase aimed solely at the state’s middle class.

Republicans are looking out for your priorities – fiscal
responsibility and no more taxes. Democrats are looking out for their own priorities – more programs, more spending, more taxes.

So what’s the biggest hang-up?

Education funding. We all agree we need to maintain our commitment to increasing overall education funding. The question is by how much.

House Republicans have a plan to ensure EVERY school district across the state gets more money than it received last year – an average of nearly 12 percent – using a combination of state money and federal stimulus funds. As indicated by the feds, we are using that money to make up forshortfalls in state revenues. When the stimulus runs out, we believe the economy will have recovered and we can return to using more state evenues to ensure our schools can continue educating our kids.

And even though Pennsylvania ranks 11th highest in education spending nationwide and 13th highest in what we pay teachers, Gov. Ed Rendell wants to increase state spending for schools and top that off with stimulus funds.

We all believe in the value of our schools, but his spending simply isn’t reasonable or responsible in the current economic times. To reiterate, an increase — even though not as high as another proposal — is still an increase especially when virtually every other department of state government will see cuts.

A large majority of Pennsylvanians agree increasing taxes is the wrong thing to do. We also can’t spend what we don’t have. That means the state can spend somewhere around $27.3 billion.

We think $27.3 billion is a lot of money and can ensure government operations continue. It’s enough to keep state parks open and hospitals operating. It’s enough to deal with hazardous waste, and it’s enough to keep law enforcement on the streets. If it isn’t, we should be looking at why, not throwing more money at it.

Government spending is out of control, and the governor and most House Democrats want to continue their recklessness. Republicans recognize the money that is funding the state and schools comes from YOUR pocket. We
believe in budgetary constraint by having government live within its means, just like you have to do. Republicans will fight against Governor Rendell’s proposed tax increase – $27.3 billion is MORE than enough.