Returning Surplus Funds to Taxpayers Promotes Growth, Fiscal Responsiblility

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(This article first appeared in Broad+Liberty)

By State Representative Rob Mercuri

Pennsylvania’s state legislature finds itself in a unique situation as we prepare for the annual budget. Led by House Republicans’ fiscally responsible approach and the hard-working taxpayers across Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund and General Fund surplus have grown into a record sum, totaling more than $12 billion.

By the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year, the balance of the Rainy Day fund is projected to be at least $6.4 billion, well over ten percent of annual tax revenues. In moments of surplus, it is often tempting for government officials to come up with new ways to spend and new programs to be established in order to project a sense of accomplishment to voters and constituents.

However, the flaw in this argument and line of thinking is what often plagues expensive governments – the recurring cost of maintenance for new programs and in efficiency of government in providing goods and services to the public. Rather than allowing officials to exploit these funds as is so often done, leading to unsustainable future expenditures, I have introduced legislation to directly refund more of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

My legislation, House Bill 2282 would establish the 2024 Taxpayer Dividend Program, which provides a one-time dividend to taxpayers who filed their 2023 Personal Income Tax returns in a timely manner. The dividend would come from a portion of the surplus and could return up to $1,000 per taxpayer. This initiative can be achieved while protecting the statutory goal of keeping six percent of the General Fund revenues in the Rainy Day Fund to keep fiscal responsibility at the forefront, while supporting taxpayers instead of more inefficient government overhead.

This rebate would go a long way in helping our families combat rising costs on essentials, groceries and gas. Our families know best how to spend their money, and their investment will drive economic growth. This is a significant but responsible action we can take to help our taxpayers and is a win-win for Pennsylvanians. I look forward to working to keep our state budget fiscally responsible and delivering this win for the taxpayers of our Commonwealth.

Rep. Rob Mercuri represents the 28th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.