The General Assembly adjourned for summer recess with unfinished business that will carry over to the fall session. House and Senate leaders failed to reach a deal on liquor privatization and transportation funding. Of these items, the one of most dire consequences was the inability to act on public pension reform. Continue reading
Last week, Governor Corbett and Republican legislators went three for three in passing and signing an on-time state budget into law. What had proven to be impossible under the Rendell Administration has become the new norm.
The approved $28.3 billion budget represents the highest spending levels by state government, exceeding the years when federal stimulus dollars supplemented state expenditures. The 2013-14 fiscal year still spends less than the 2010-11 fiscal year when adjusting for inflation. This much-needed fiscal restraint comes after decades of a Harrisburg spending spree.
In the upcoming fiscal year, the federal government has requested that Pennsylvania pay several million dollars annually to account for reductions in federal rail subsidies. The Corbett administration has successfully negotiated a multi-million dollar annual payment to preserve Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Now, the legislature has the final say over western PA’s passenger rail service as lawmakers discuss transportation-funding packages. With an overabundance of infrastructure needs, tax dollars should not be wasted on a fledgling rail line when there are better travel route alternatives. Continue reading
Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair Vincent Hughes derailed Governor Corbett’s budget address as a fiscal plan that takes Pennsylvania in the wrong direction. Senator Hughes asserts that the budget awards the Governor and his “wealthy friends” tax breaks and only offers working people a proposal to “put booze on every block in every community.” This rhetoric grossly mischaracterizes privatization efforts and the serious issue of liquor control and public safety. Continue reading
After a failed attempt during the prior session to privatize Pennsylvania’s state wine and liquor stores, Governor Corbett has unveiled his own plan to move government out of the booze business. Pennsylvania is one of only two remaining states to maintain a government monopoly over wholesale and retail sales of both wine and spirits. The Governor’s plan will transform this prohibition-era system into one of greater consumer choice and convenience while also providing a critical investment opportunity for public education.