Statement from House Majority Leader Turzai Regarding Governor Corbett’s 2012-13 State Budget proposal
HARRISBURG – The following are the House Floor remarks from House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) in response to the 2012-13 state budget proposal offered by Gov. Tom Corbett:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let’s be honest. The days of endless spending are definitely over, but we are still climbing out of the mess created by the previous administration, where spending increased about 40 percent and inflation grew only 21 percent.

We have brought fiscal discipline to the table.

The fact is, what we have accomplished, living within our means and prioritizing how we spend tax dollars, is a refreshing approach to budgeting.

We are paving the way for private sector job creation.

And that is what the citizens of Pennsylvania want and expect. They expect their government to:
Protect taxpayers and act as strong fiscal stewards of hard-earned tax dollars.
Provide essential services.
Stay out of the way of people working to grow Pennsylvania’s economy.

This is the governor’s proposal:
It sets the tone.
We will continue to work as a TEAM to craft the final product.

The governor’s blueprint spends $27.1 billion. Yes, that is a lot of money, but less than last year’s budget and it still protects the most vulnerable.

No tax increases.

Cost-savings and efficiencies through:
Reducing administrative requirements and bureaucratic hurdles.

Clamps-down on budget growth in Public Welfare, Corrections, and capital debt; it forces departments to reform how they operate.

If those who like to spend money had their way last year to spend money we didn’t have, the Personal Income Tax would have had to increase to 3.5 percent, costing each taxpayer about $300, and small businesses $200 million.

To spend and spend is NOT the answer to prosperity.

To incur more debt is bad for everyone.

This budget reduces the debt spending and refocuses priorities. This governor is working with legislators from both sides of the aisle to reform the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, known as RACP (you’ll hear more about that tomorrow!).

Every borrowed dollar takes away resources from the kids of today and the grandkids of tomorrow.

Budget priorities…

Last year, we increased the Basic Education Subsidy to its highest level ever, to help Pennsylvania’s schools though the loss of the $800 million from President Obama’s stimulus funding

And you know what happened? In September, schools opened, and are still teaching our kids how read, write and do math.

This budget proposal continues to fund Pre-K to 12 education; in fact, it provides $9.92 billion – an increase of $329.6 million (3.4 percent).

Lines have been combined to create a block grant to give local school districts flexibility.

Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities are allocated about $930 million.

The governor’s budget limits the growth in welfare and provides $10.3 billion in assistance to those who need that helping hand – while reducing the overall appropriation. It consolidates multiple programs into a single Human Service block grant to give counties the flexibility they need in this recessionary time frame.

Ensuring the safety of Pennsylvania’s communities, the governor proposes $87 million for the State Police, including $7.8 million for a new class of 115 new troopers.

Level funding for the Department of Corrections, made possible by smart cost containments. It’s the first time in more than a decade it has been level-funded.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (or PEMA) would receive $29.5 million, a 17 percent increase, and provides a new Hazard Mitigation line to match dollars for federally funded projects.

$131.7 million is proposed for Probation and Parole, with increased funding to implement Megan’s Law.

The budget funds state parks with $26 million.

Our environmental laws will be enforced through $125 million for the Department of Environmental Protection.

Regional Cancer Institutes and Cancer Screening services will see approximately $3 million.

It is good to hear the governor give such a priority to private sector job creation. We will continue to work closely with him and the Senate in this regard.

Privatizing non-core function services would ultimately create jobs for hard working Pennsylvanians.

What services could the private sector do better than government bureaucracy?

Private sector job creation is the best welfare reform we can achieve.

We have already set the course for a more job-friendly Pennsylvania:
Protecting employers from unfair lawsuit abuse through passage of the Fair Share Act.
Bringing equity to the Unemployment Compensation system through a number of reforms, such as requiring recipients to at least look for a job and creating an offset for severance pay.
Helping smaller employers by adopting Workers’ Compensation reforms for sole proprietors.
Helping the housing industry by repealing the mandatory residential sprinkler mandate.
Extending the state’s Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zones by 15. Old refineries and unused sites can be revitalized with job creators -- that means thousands of jobs.
With pending passage of the DSIC bill, we will be encouraging needed investments with private sector dollars for the state’s aging public utility infrastructure – natural gas, electric and wastewater systems.

This will create thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs throughout the state.

For the first time, in many years, we are living within our revenues.

This proposal is just the beginning, but it sets a tone… NO tax increases, no reckless borrowing and responsible priorities.

State Representative Mike Turzai
Contact: Stephen Miskin
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