Taxes, Out-of-Control Spending Crippling Pennsylvania
5/8/2007
Former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton testifies before House Republican Policy Committee
 
Former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton described flaws and problems with Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget proposal at Thursday’s House Republican Policy Committee hearing.
 
During his testimony, Scranton compared the rates of spending and borrowing from when he served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Dick Thornburgh to those of the Rendell administration.
 
Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, applauded Scranton’s testimony. 
 
“House Republicans are demanding a fiscally responsible budget,” Turzai said. “We need controlled spending, no more tax increases, no more borrowing.”
 
Scranton’s testimony focused on ways to drive down costs and stop out-of-control spending.
 
He described a three-pronged philosophy that was used under the Thornburgh administration to rein in spending:
 
  • Restore ethics, openness and integrity to government.
  • Embrace the future, and free Pennsylvania enterprise to compete.
  • Insist on a culture of fiscal discipline – the notion that it’s not the government’s money. 
 
Scranton said that after eight years, this philosophy yielded thousands of new family-sustaining jobs, a balanced budget, a $300 million debt reduction, cuts in individual and business taxes, reduction in government bureaucracy and a $300 million surplus.
 
He said that this philosophy could still work today. 
 
“There is no way you can achieve what you want to achieve under [Rendell’s] budget proposal. It [the budget] is unprecedented in its audacity and ambition,” Scranton said. “It reaches into the bank accounts and wallets of families who’ve worked long days and nights for many years to pay for a house or college or clothes and groceries. The people didn’t ask for this budget.”
 
Scranton went on to list specific trouble areas within Rendell’s budget proposal, as well as potential solutions to solve these problems. The issues that he defined as problem areas are: welfare, health care, the state debt, energy and transportation, and taxes.
 
“There is no evidence to suggest that a state in our condition can tax itself into economic vitality,” Scranton added. He said the Commonwealth would be better served by a leaner government and lower taxes.
 
The governor has proposed seven tax increases that total nearly $2.4 billion.
 
Scranton went on to say that the Rendell administration is doing a terrible disservice to people in regard to the high costs of welfare spending. He said that the current system fails to move people from welfare to work, effectively increasing the amount of poverty in Pennsylvania. 
 
Turzai said that the House Republicans recognize that the Rendell administration has put welfare spending back on the agenda.
 
Currently, total welfare spending is the single largest expenditure in the state budget. Pennsylvania presently spends more on welfare than it does on critical programs such as education.
 
In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Pennsylvania is projected to spend more than $23 billion in both state and federal funding for welfare. Just before Rendell took office in 2003, total state spending on welfare was $6.8 billion. Rendell’s proposed budget for 2007-08 calls for $11.5 billion in welfare spending, an increase of 68 percent in just five years.
 
“Pennsylvania’s imminent welfare crisis represents a monumental failure by the Rendell administration,” Turzai said. “Pennsylvania is long overdue for a realistic approach to welfare spending that combines fiscal discipline with proven welfare-to-work strategies and a diligent approach to rooting out welfare fraud. Twelve million Pennsylvanians deserve nothing less.”
 
Scranton also said businesses will be driven out of the state if the governor’s health care plan is implemented. A better solution is one that strikes a balance between quality, access and cost, which the governor’s health care program does not achieve, he added.
 
“What is probably most disappointing about [Rendell’s] budget is that it’s presented as a painless sacrifice by a handful, not shared pain by many,” Scranton concluded. “The best thing you can do to honor the people that work outside the walls of this Capitol is to send this budget back and write a new one.”
 
The budget bill is expected to be introduced by House Democrats on May 9 – less than 60 days before the constitutional deadline for a completed budget of June 30.

 
Rep. Mike Turzai
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(412) 369-2230
Contact: Tricia Graham
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 260-6296
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2007