FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry commended state Senate Republicans for advancing a responsible state spending plan in a very difficult year.
The Senate’s $27.3 billion budget removes $1.7 billion in spending from the Rendell administration’s proposed budget. It calls for program funding cuts, relies on federal stimulus funds to supplement state programs, and contains no tax increases, including a proposed tax on health insurance premiums advanced by the Rendell administration.
"Earlier this week, the governor said that this is not a game; this is not political chess," said Gene Barr, PA Chamber vice president of government and public affairs. "He’s right, and the Senate’s budget reflects that. It’s about living within our means in a difficult economy and making sure government works more efficiently."
Pennsylvania is facing a revenue deficit of nearly $2.6 billion; that gap could reach $3 billion by the end of the current fiscal year.
"We can’t afford to relive 1991," said Barr, referencing what was at that time the largest tax increase in state history, and from which, competitively, Pennsylvania has not yet fully recovered.
Barr said businesses and families have had to make tough choices as a result of the recession. Government, he said, must be prepared to do so as well, not only to get through the current budget crisis, but in order to be prepared for challenging years ahead.
In addition to the current budget deficit, the Commonwealth’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund faces a nearly $1 billion shortfall, and a funding crisis is looming for the state’s two pension plans.
"The Senate’s budget recognizes that the Commonwealth could be facing hard times over the next couple of years," he stressed. "We can’t just focus on getting through this budget cycle. Fiscal restraint and sacrifices across the board now will ultimately help better position the Commonwealth for the future."
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy association, representing businesses crossing all industry sectors and of all sizes. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business.