Budget Buzz

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
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With only a few days left until the end of the commonwealth’s fiscal year, all eyes in Harrisburg are on the state’s yet-to-be-enacted 2014-2015 spending plan. This week, the House of Representatives sent the budget vehicle, House Bill 2328 (Adolph, R-Delaware) to the Senate for consideration, where it is likely to be reported from the Appropriations Committee and taken up for consideration at any time.  The Senate is now in control of the bill and poised to amend it. And while it’s hard to say at this point what is in the budget, here’s what some members are saying about the budget:

Rep. Brad Roe (R- Crawford)

“Approximately $6 out of every $10 in new spending will be used to support education.”

“This would be the fourth budget in a row to set a new state record for state tax dollars that are spent on education.”

Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin)

“We have taken a step in the process by passing a budget bill that reflects our priorities. “

“The next step is for the Senate to adopt a budget bill that reflects its concerns.  Once that happens, we will have to look at any differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget and find a way to work out a final bill that meets the needs of Pennsylvanians.”

Rep. Todd Rock (R-Franklin)

“Though I have concerns with the additional revenue in this spending plan, I voted in favor of the House budget proposal for two reasons: it would not raise taxes, and it would increase funding to local school districts.”

Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon)

“I am extraordinarily pleased with the budget proposal we passed this evening. Not only would it keep increases in state spending below the rate of inflation in accordance with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), it would bring our state’s ledger books into balance without tax increases. Additionally, this budget would increase education funding to local school districts to assist them with their growing pension obligations. This is an astounding feat, given our challenging economic climate and shortfalls in tax collections. I congratulate the House Appropriations Committee members and their staff, who crafted this bill, for a job well done.”

Rep. Pam Delissio (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia)

“’This budget scratches for every nickel,’ stated a colleague during budget debate on the House floor today. I could not disagree more. We have not broken a sweat to improve the revenue side of this budget this year or any of the previous three budget cycles.”

“Education funding and human services funding remain at great risk in the budget that the House passed today.”

“This budget will be amended in the Senate and will come back to the House on concurrence, and I look forward to continuing to work to include the priorities of the citizens of the 194thLegislative District.”

Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland)

“The House’s 2014-15 budget plan represents the kind of responsible, commonsense fiscal choices for which I have consistently fought. For the fourth consecutive year, total state spending falls under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) benchmark growth rate — in other words, we’re spending fewer taxpayer dollars compared to inflation and population growth.”

“While this budget responsibly funds the core functions of government and even provides modest increases for education and the intellectually disabled, we are not sticking Pennsylvania taxpayers with even a dime of tax hikes or new taxes. I am committed to not reaching any deeper into the pockets of the hard-working taxpayers I represent, so I am pleased the plan we passed today honors that commitment. Even in the face of an impending deficit, this budget plan supports essential services without placing an additional burden on the backs of Pennsylvania taxpayers.”

Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D-Lawrence/Butler/Beaver)

“As it has been in the past three budgets from Governor Corbett and Republicans in the legislature, education is once again underfunded, specifically higher education.”

“We simply cannot continue to flat fund our postsecondary education system. We are, in effect, flat funding our children’s future and Pennsylvania’s ability to compete in a global economy.”

“Funding for our college and universities, which is sadly a level of education that is becoming increasingly harder for our middle-class families to attain, does not receive an increase in this budget proposal.”

“Tuition rates continue to increase at public universities and community colleges, which are the cornerstones of education for many Pennsylvanians. We must be committed to making meaningful restorations of the cuts these institutions have seen.”

Sen. Sean Wiley (D- Erie)

“The House proposal, at this rate, removes nearly every tax credit program out there.”

“Throughout the Governors term in office, he has been downsizing economic development, refocusing whatever resources are available and taking away tools that small businesses and businesses in general use to create jobs.”

“The Senate needs to step up, look at these proposals and make sure the tax credits are restored. We must continue to look for other revenue and cost-saving opportunities that support rather than hinder the development and sustainability of our small businesses.”

“I think it’s safe to say that this is not really a serious attempt to resolve our budget dilemma. What it is, is a radical manifesto filled with nonsensical ideas that will be promptly discredited by me and my colleagues in the Senate. We simply do not have time for this kind of grandstanding.”

Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-Philadelphia)

“We have five days left before the fiscal year ends to pass an on-time budget. We have five days left to deal with a massive deficit of over a billion dollars, and instead of talking about solutions, we waste time with conversations about supposed reforms that offer no short-term cost savings.”

“With the time that we have left, the real conversation we should be having is about our priorities. We have five days left to decide whether we are going to give corporations and special interest groups another free ride or help those who need it most.”

Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster)

“Four years ago, Governor Corbett proposed his first state budget and likened it to a belt-tightening family sitting around the kitchen table making decisions on where to save and where to spend. Simply put: this House Republican budget plan is based on either delaying paying the bills or simply not paying the bills at all. Not many Pennsylvania families can balance their budgets in that way.”

Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga)

“During these times of great economic and budgetary challenges, moving this bill forward is difficult but important to fulfill our constitutional duty of passing a balanced and on-time budget.”

“Three-fourths of the state budget is committed to health and human services ($11.2 billion) and education ($11.1 billion), which have always been our top priority.”

“Just last month, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent, the lowest rate since September 2008, and jobs in the private sector are at a record high.”

“It is clear that when elected officials limit government spending only to the amount of money the government takes in and keeps its hands out of the pockets of hard-working Pennsylvanians, the economy improves.”

Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny/Washington)

“The House has sent the Senate a fiscally responsible budget proposal that contains no tax increases and limits the growth of government spending. I strongly urge the Senate to follow our lead.”

“Legislators have been under enormous pressure to levy extraction taxes on the Marcellus Shale industry, a move that could place tens of thousands of Pennsylvania jobs in jeopardy. The House has done well to resist this temptation. Instead, our budget relies on getting the Commonwealth out of the business of selling liquor once and for all and finally privatizing our state stores – a move that would raise hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue.”

“The House budget proposal also would increase state funding for K-12 education to record levels for the fourth year in a row. The false claim that the Legislature cut $1 billion from education was soundly refuted by what we passed today.”

“The Senate now has the opportunity to revise the measure and send it back to our chamber. While I support the budget bill in its current form, my position could change depending on how many modifications are made. I am hopeful that common sense will prevail and that the House’s pro-jobs, pro-growth budget will remain largely intact.”

Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk)

“I am proud to support a budget that lives within our means and respects the hard-working taxpayers of Pennsylvania. House Bill 2328 supports and prioritizes the core functions of government in difficult economic times.”

“For the fourth consecutive fiscal year, this budget will fund K-12 education at a record level. This commitment of $10.3 billion in state funding to our schools is nearly $400 million higher than the greatest amounts available to schools under Federal Stimulus in 2010-11. Special education funding is increased by $20 million in this budget, and this budget includes additional support to assist school districts in paying their increased pension obligations. These increases show our continued commitment to future generations.”

“Obligations placed on us by the federal government, in the form of both increased costs and reduced reimbursements have made the task of achieving a balanced budget difficult. In spite of that, we have put forth a responsible spending plan that does not increase taxes or rely on new debt.”

“Our financial practices are starting to pay off. Pennsylvania is moving in a more business-friendly direction. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in six years and below the national average. Colorado-based WhiteWave Food Company’s decision to purchase the former International Custom Products building in Sandy Township is an example of a rebirth happening statewide. This budget bill continues that trend and will keep us moving toward prosperity and fiscal stability.”

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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