Feb. 19, 2024

Legislative Update
The latest news from the State Capitol
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Digging into the Details: Budget Hearings Begin Tuesday

“If small businesses budgeted the way the Commonwealth has, they’d be filing for bankruptcy and closing their doors forever,” said Greg Moreland, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Following the budget proposal offered by Gov. Josh Shapiro earlier this month – a $48.34 billion plan that is long on spending and short on details – the House Appropriations Committee will begin the process of dissecting the plan at budget hearings starting next week.

On Tuesday, the committee will take testimony from the Department of Community and Economic Development and from the Department of Revenue. Other agencies slated to testify next week include the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and the departments of Aging, Agriculture and Corrections.
At a Glance: Shapiro Explodes Budget Deficit, Inviting Tax Hikes

A third-party review of the budget by the Commonwealth Foundation found…
  •   Shapiro proposes more than $48.3 billion in General Fund spending, a dramatic 7.1% increase over the current year’s ongoing spending. This is more than double the average growth in Pennsylvania’s personal income over the last three years.
  •   While the 2023-24 budget already includes a budget deficit, spending more than revenues, Shapiro’s plan balloons the structural deficit.
  •   Shapiro’s massive spending increase takes an Independent Fiscal Office-projected $2 billion deficit and inflates it into a massive $3.6 billion deficit.
  •   Even with highly unrealistic revenue and spending projections in future years, Shapiro would exhaust the General Fund balance in 2026, accelerating the looming crisis. This overspending would require tax hikes on working families in 2026.
  •   The cost to cover Shapiro’s $3.4 billion deficit in 2026 equals a tax hike of $1,000 per family of four.
  •   While Shapiro proposes draining the state’s Rainy Day Fund to fuel deficit spending, he is ignoring state law in this regard, which specifies that Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund can be used “only when emergencies ...or downturns in the economy resulting in significant unanticipated revenue shortfalls” happen; and “shall not be used to begin new programs.”
  •   Further, the law requires a two-thirds vote to spend Rainy Day Funds. This is not a “surplus,” but a savings that protects taxpayers from future recessions. It is both imprudent policy and illegal to propose draining the Rainy Day Fund to cover up a structural deficit. Further, Shapiro’s plan fails to ever bring the budget into balance, just delaying tax hikes until after reelection.
Supporting Our Local Fire, EMS Agencies

Local fire and emergency response organizations were awarded over $425,000 in funding through the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program.

The funding comes from an ongoing grant program created by the Legislature and administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC). All funding comes from the proceeds from slot machine gaming, and not General Fund tax revenue.

Projects eligible for funding include construction or renovation of a fire or ambulance company facility, purchase or repair of equipment, training, or reduction of existing debt. All companies that apply and meet requirements outlined by OSFC receive funding. Companies must file a grant agreement with OSFC by July 1 to receive their grants.

To view a complete list of grant recipients, check out my press release.