Pennsylvania faces a number of critical issues that Gov. Tom Corbett and the newly elected General Assembly will soon be required to confront. Perhaps the most consequential to job creators and taxpayers is implementation of several mandates contained within the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
The U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 ruled that the federal government may not withhold Medicaid funds from the states if they do not create health insurance exchanges as required by ObamaCare. This means states may now decide whether or not they want to participate in this federal scheme without losing money that helped pay the medical bills for the most vulnerable. Another major issue our state must confront is the decision of whether or not to implement the law’s massive expansion of Medicaid. We believe Pennsylvania should stand with our job creators, patients and taxpayers, and reject both.
While it is often difficult to pass legislation prior to an election, legislators agreed to pass a bill that increased state debt by more than $1.6 billion. The House recently approved this piece of legislation which was passed by the Senate in June. The Governor is expected to authorize the additional borrowing in the coming weeks.
The majority of funds are earmarked for public infrastructure projects. However, a significant amount of these newly borrowed funds will be applied to the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects program (RACP). The capital projects fund funnels government grants to private development projects. This new legislation will cost taxpayers $2.3 billion over 20 years or an additional $115 million in annual debt servicing.
When it comes to allocating funds, the RACP has a longstanding history of being a “political process, first and foremost.” Continue reading
After a two month recess, the General Assembly reconvened for the fall legislative session. For the first time since the end of the Great Recession, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has steadily risen to meet the national average. With only one month remaining before adjourning until next year, the House Finance Committee swiftly approved legislation by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (Centre) aimed to bolster job creation.
In less than three weeks, the General Assembly will meet for the fall legislative session. Legislators will convene for 8-10 days in the fall months prior to the election.
Senate Schedule: September 24, 25; October 1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17
House Schedule: September 24, 25; October 1, 2, 3, 4, 15, 16, 17, 18
After the election, the majority caucus in each chamber will elect leadership their leadership. The next legislative session will begin when the newest members take the oath of office in January.
Upon the successful passage of the state budget, legislators have returned to their districts for summer recess. At this time, Keystone Liberty will review and highlight the many legislative achievements and stalemates of this session before adjourning for the summer.
Building upon the fiscal responsibility of last year’s budget, the General Assembly passed the 2012-13 budget. The Governor approved the budget which went into effect July 1st. Unlike the previous administration, Governor Corbett managed to deliver two consecutive balanced budgets on time. The spending plan demonstrates a commitment to taxpayers, free enterprise, students and the state’s most needy.
It appears that Pennsylvania will have its budget passed on time without any tax increases for the second consecutive year. The Governor and lawmakers agreed on a spending framework and are now negotiating specific line items.
As a part of a budget deal, some Democratic and Republican policymakers are advocating for a plan set to award Shell Oil a prolonged tax credit in exchange for the construction of a natural gas cracker plant in Western Pennsylvania. Proponents argue that the Shell Plant will bolster the state economy by creating thousands of jobs. However, in reality, Pennsylvania has a long history with targeted tax credits and little to show for it.