The state budget process can be long and arduous. This year, as in years past, the governor unveiled his state budget proposal at the beginning of February to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He is asking for $33 billion in spending, which is $1 billion more than the current year. As a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, which focuses on state finances and the budget, I know we can do better than that.
Through a more fiscally minded approach to government spending, we can keep our budget in check while still meeting our obligations and improving pivotal areas through eliminating redundancies and streamlining services. Although the economy is making improvements, we still need to be cautious and not spend more than the state generates.
I am glad to hear the governor has taken the broad-based sales or income tax increases off the table that he has called for in his previous budget proposals. He has again expressed his support to impose a severance tax on the natural gas industry, which would be in addition to the standard businesses taxes and impact fee they already pay.
As part of his budget proposal, the governor is asking for additional investments in education, workforce development, and career and technical education, as well as continued funding to address the opioid epidemic.
I agree these are areas of importance. The challenge is in determining if we can do better with the funding and resources already provided to these sectors, before simply handing them more money.
After the address to the joint session, House Republicans continued our call to stand up for taxpayers by outlining four principles we want to see in the next enacted budget:
Developing work and economic opportunities.
Educating for success.
Escaping government dysfunction.
Protecting families and communities.
By focusing on these four pillars, along with more stringent fiscal restraint, I believe we can create a budget that meets our obligations while continuing to move us forward as a state.
The House Appropriations Committee is now conducting budget hearings, in which we are seeking information from various state agencies on their funding and spending strategies. For more information about the governor’s budget proposal, visit PaBudget.com
Representative Curt Sonney
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman