Summer Recess: Achievements & Stalemates

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.
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Responsible and Balanced Budget Passed on Time

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.
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School Choice Generates Big Savings for Schools and Taxpayers

In February, Governor Corbett delivered his second budgetary address. In similar fashion, the Governor revealed another plan to balance the public ledger without imposing tax increases on the existing sluggish economy.

Since the inception of the new budget plan, the Treasury has reported higher than anticipated revenues. Consequently, the Senate recently passed a proposal that restores funding to basic and higher education and several other social health programs. While the Senate proposal is balanced, the increased spending relies on additional transfers from last year’s balance and the rainy day fund.

For lawmakers who are committed to providing funding and relief for public education, there is a public policy alternative which would free up another $500 million. Expanding Pennsylvania’s successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) is a feasible legislative proposal that can salvage public school budgets while avoiding tax hikes and increasing educational opportunities for tens of thousands of students.
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House Democrat Misleads on Property Taxes and School Funding

Democratic party leaders within the General Assembly continue to send a message insinuating that the Governor’s budget is an assault on working families. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (Allegheny) took the floor early in the budgeting process to voice his stern disapproval of the plan for a balanced budget. In his critique, Rep. Dermody called the proposal “year two of the Corbett property tax hike agenda” and further condemned the budget as an “unprecedented attack on public education.” Such fiery floor rhetoric fails to foster an honest debate concerning the state of education funding in the Commonwealth.
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Property Tax Independence for Pennsylvania

While Pennsylvanians have enjoyed a much-needed respite from tax increases at the state level, the same cannot be said for local government. School boards across the Commonwealth continue to raise property taxes for homeowners. Considering that Pennsylvania already has the 10th highest state and local tax burden, taxpayers have just cause to be frustrated with the ever-increasing property tax rates. In recent years, lawmakers have enacted legislation intended to keep tax hikes at bay only to fall short of a meaningful solution. Fortunately, Rep. Jim Cox (Berks) has introduced House Bill 1776, the Property Tax Independence Act. This bill intends to eliminate the constant increases in property taxes in exchange for a more equitable system.
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