From Rohrer's release:
"This budget agreement would kick Pennsylvanians while they are already down," Rohrer said. "Instead of lowering spending to bring it in line with revenues, this budget proposal calls for an increase in taxes to bring them in line with what Harrisburg politicians want to spend. This budget would put the wants of government above the needs of taxpayers."For more about Rep. Rohrer, visit his Web site, www.SamRohrer.com
Initial reports suggest the budget would spend more than $27.9 billion. Details of how the money would be spent were not immediately available.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the real cost of the budget was higher," Rohrer said. "If there are two things some politicians in Harrisburg are good at, it's hiding spending and fudging numbers."
Rohrer serves as the Republican chairman of the House Finance Committee, which monitors state revenues. While the state collected a little more than $25.5 billion last year, the budget agreement would spend approximately $2.4 billion more than that. Rohrer believes revenues are likely to decrease as the state continues to struggle through the recession. He believes the Commonwealth is likely to bring in revenues in line with what it collected several years ago.
"This is a budget proposal that spends more than the state will have and more than taxpayers can afford," Rohrer said. "In addition, the agreement announced today ignores the pending pension problem and the fact that federal stimulus dollars will evaporate in a few short years. This budget is bad for this year, worse for next year and impossible the year after that. Responsible budgets are based on good numbers and the truth. This budget proposal has neither."
The agreement includes approximately $1.2 billion in so-called "recurring revenues," more than half of which are tax increases. The proposal calls for a 25-cent-per-pack increase on cigarettes and an increase in the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) paid by employers.
"This budget proposal suggests that the lawmakers who crafted it believe some Pennsylvanians can afford to pay higher taxes in the middle of a recession," Rohrer said. "This budget targets smokers and small business owners to carry an extra burden during tough economic times. Singling out small groups and taking advantage of them used to be called discrimination. I guess now it’s what passes as budget policy in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
The agreement also calls for the use of the entire $755 million currently stored in the state's "Rainy Day Fund," an account that is supposed to be used by the state to pay for unforeseen emergencies.
"Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, our Commonwealth used the Rainy Day Fund to shore up the state budget during the turmoil that ensued," Rohrer said. "We all pray that another terrorist attack will never take place on American soil. However, we must be vigilant and prepared in case it does. This budget proposal would drain the fund that Pennsylvania relied on in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in American history. We cannot afford to be so naive. That is a luxury of times long since passed."
The budget agreement also proposed to legalize table games – such as poker, blackjack and roulette – at Pennsylvania casinos.
"Casinos have failed to deliver meaningful property tax relief for Pennsylvania homeowners," Rohrer said. "Now, some politicians want to rely on them to balance our state budget. When will they realize that such 'get-rich-quick' schemes never work? Instead of solving the Commonwealth’s budget problems, they're relying on another gimmick."
The budget agreement was announced by leaders from three of the four legislative caucuses. Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and House Democrats participated in the Capitol news conference to announce the agreement. House Republican leaders did not participate.
"Taxpayers deserve a state government that understands their burdens – not one that adds to them," Rohrer said. "Workers are losing their jobs in the recession. Families are losing their homes to foreclosure. Senior citizens have seen their retirement savings wiped out. And how do legislative leaders propose to solve the state budget stalemate? They want to hang the weight of higher taxes around the necks of Pennsylvania families and small employers. At a time when Pennsylvanians deserve compassion, their state government offers a cold shoulder."
Rohrer believes the state should approach the budget dilemma by trimming spending across the board without eliminating funding for core government programs and services.
"When a family has less food, each person gets a smaller share," Rohrer said. "While people cut back, no one goes without. One family member doesn’t gorge while another goes hungry. Everyone eats a little less. That's how we should approach Pennsylvania’s budget problem."
Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS