(HARRISBURG) – The Pennsylvania State Senate has passed a bi-partisan set of bills to fund the June 30 spending plan and fill a $2.1 billion deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, according to Senator John R. Gordner (R-27).
On June 30, the Senate passed HB 218, the spending plan for the year, by a vote of 43-7. Later that day, it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 173-27. Governor Tom Wolf allowed it to lapse into law, despite not having the revenue portion of the budget in place.
SB 218 included a modest 1% increase in spending from the previous fiscal year. It included numerous line items that are at lower levels than they were the previous year.
“We have been operating in challenging financial times, including significant annual budget deficits, since the recession of 2008-09,” said Senator Gordner. “It is incumbent on us to be responsible with the taxpayers’ money. Raising taxes of any kind is a last resort.”
In response to those challenges, the General Assembly has passed budgets each year that sought to reduce unnecessary spending and to find increased efficiencies in state government as a means to avoid tax increases.
“If you subtract the mandated cost drivers in the areas of human services, corrections and pensions, we are actually spending less money today than we were in 2010,” added Senator Gordner. “However, with no new revenue sources, these mandated costs continue to drive our annual deficit deeper and deeper. It is now the General Assembly’s responsibility to make some tough choices and start to fill that gap with some recurring revenue.”
Unlike the federal government, the state is required to pass a balanced budget every year.
“The bills we voted on today were the responsible thing to do,” added Senator Gordner. “If we did nothing, as some have advocated, State Treasurer Joe Torsella has indicated that we will be out of money in September, which would lead to borrowing of funds just to keep government open and would result in a massive credit downgrading for Pennsylvania.”
The package of bills passed by the Senate today do not include any broad-based tax increases, such as Personal Income Tax or the Sales Tax. Instead it focuses on minor increases to a few utility taxes and the implementation of a modest severance tax on the Marcellus Shale industry.
The measures now go to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
CONTACT: Mike Stephens (717) 787-8928