|On February 7, I rose from my seat on the House floor and turned toward the center aisle to welcome members of the State Senate as they entered the House chamber for a joint session of the General Assembly. As they passed, I shook many hands and exchanged greetings with many of the senators. During our exchanges, I learned that the Senate Republicans were counting votes to gauge the support for my voter identification legislation.
After the senators were seated, the Governor was escorted into our chamber to deliver his 2012 budget address. The joint session is an annual occurrence for the Pennsylvania Legislature to receive the Governor’s budget address.
The Governor made some good statements. He said, “We cannot allow debts of today to crowd out the dreams of tomorrow.” I join with him in his declaration that, “We will not raise taxes.” He also pointed out that there are needs and wants in the budget by saying, “As we continue to sort through the must-haves and the nice-to-haves, and compress government into its core functions, public safety stands as a central obligation.”
The budget proposal spends $27.138 billion, which is $22 million less than last year’s budget. A tenth of one percent reduction in spending is all the Governor offered. To his credit, he is not only proposing no tax increases, but also a reduction in the Capital Stock & Franchise Tax to help job creation. Welfare spending is set at $10.53 billion, a reduction of only .3 percent from last year. Clearly, not leading by example, the Governor proposes reducing the Military and Veterans Affairs budget by $6.25 million and the Legislature by $12 million, but increases his own office budget.
I agree with the Governor’s direction of reducing spending, but I believe we can do much better than only a tenth of one percent cut. I agree with the Governor on reducing spending in the fraud-ridden, inefficient state welfare system, but instead of using a butter knife to make cuts of only three tenths of one percent, he should have used a meat cleaver to cut out the fat. I also agree with the Governor that we should reduce the Legislature’s budget, but he should lead by example and cut his own budget, not increase it.
Throughout this year’s budget process, I will continue my work to protect taxpayers.
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