(HARRISBURG) – In an effort to resolve the 58-day budget impasse, House Republican Leader Sam Smith called on House Democrat leaders to bring the House back into session to vote on taxes.
"To balance the budget, the Democrats continue to talk about the need for more taxes; if they truly believe it, then they need to be honest with our residents and specify what revenues they propose by bringing a bill up for a vote," Smith said. "It is almost September and Pennsylvania does not have a budget because the governor wants new taxes and higher spending. His allies need to show the votes."
Smith said he continues to strongly oppose any tax increases, including the recently proposed sales tax expansions, and believes the best way to resolve the impasse is to consider a compromise budget proposal that funds Pennsylvania’s priorities, is balanced and does not increase taxes.
Last week House Republicans introduced a plan that includes a $150 million increase for basic education; money for hospitals and health care programs that were eliminated from the governor’s proposal; and necessary funds for human service programs. The House Republican Budget Compromise has been introduced as House Bill 1943 and controls state spending.
"We cannot take more money out of taxpayers’ pockets – they cannot afford it. There was news story about Kmart’s lay-away program saying people buying school supplies were putting notebooks, pens and pencils on lay-away. If families are putting school supplies on lay-away, imagine how tight things really are," Smith said. "The $4.90 a week the governor likes to talk about as being de minimus, is real money and means something to Pennsylvania families."
For more information on House Bill 1943, please visit http://bit.ly/hb1943.
According to Smith, local community services aiding children and families which depend on state funding such as Community Action or day care services are now scrounging to keep their doors open. The funding crisis could have been avoided if the governor would consider the House Republican Budget Compromise proposal.
"Instead of helping Pennsylvanians in need, the governor chose to veto funding for critical human services and schools because he’s wedded to increased spending and higher taxes," Smith said.
Smith also pointed to the findings in the Auditor General’s recent audit of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), corroborating the budget approach House Republicans took to craft the compromise proposal.
In response to the audit, DPW Secretary Estelle Richman sent legislative leaders a letter pledging to fix the problems.
"The Auditor General has issued three audits over the last year and a half. There are enormous amounts of waste, fraud, and abuse in that department and it’s documented by the Auditor General. The secretary of public welfare has known about these problems for years and has not reacted to them," Smith said. "The Republican Caucus has zero faith in Secretary Richman’s ability to fulfill her promises."
Smith noted that House Republicans have identified these very same issues for years and the findings have been ignored. He said the House Republican budget plan accounts for the areas where fraud has been identified and makes cuts accordingly. He encouraged the administration to look closely at that plan as a means to arrive at a balanced budget.