Statement of Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania's free-market think tank, on Governor Corbett's budget proposal:
Gov. Corbett has chosen to prioritize government spending and protect taxpayers from future pension manipulations and unaffordable Medicaid costs. We commend Gov. Corbett for standing with hardworking, taxpaying Pennsylvanians, and against special interests who demand he spend more of other people's money.
Gov. Corbett's proposal to move all new government employees to a defined contribution retirement plan will remove the politics inherent in defined benefit pensions. Following the reforms made in the private sector long ago, the Governor's proposal to move future employees into a defined contribution plan will provide workers with flexible retirement plans that are also affordable to taxpayers. Moving to defined contribution plans will prevent the political practice of promising benefits today and transferring the costs to our children and grandchildren in the future.
However, more must be done to defuse the coming pension bomb that will hit every taxpayer in the commonwealth. Rather than continuing to delay paying these costs, we must make pension funding a priority by decreasing spending in other non-core government areas.
The Governor's proposal to privatize the government-run wine and liquor stores, and reform our archaic beer laws, will get government out of the business of selling, marketing, and producing wine and liquor, and restore it to its proper role of enforcing liquor laws. By giving citizens the convenience they demand, we can end the border bleed that is losing tens of millions of dollars to other states.
Gov. Corbett made the right decision to not put more citizens on Pennsylvania's Medicaid rolls. This expansion would have cost taxpayers an additional $1.3 to $5.5 billion in state taxes, on top of the federal taxes the Affordable Care Act imposes on Pennsylvania families. Given that Medicaid provides low-quality care and long wait times for recipients, Gov. Corbett did well to protect taxpayers rather than simply dump more people into an inferior government insurance system.
On transportation, the governor's proposal includes many positive reforms to reduce costs and inefficiencies, and utilizes public private partnerships to bring private-sector funding and expertise to transportation. However, lawmakers could go further to ensure that every dollar is well-spent before seeking additional billions of dollars from taxes by redefining prevailing wage mandates and ending the redirection of Turnpike tolls to mass transit agencies. Before any taxes are increased, we should be demonstrating that the billions we already spend on transportation are maximized.
Gov. Corbett's proposal to lower Pennsylvania's onerous corporate income tax—which is amongst the highest in the world—will reduce burdens on Pennsylvania job creators and help open the doors to new businesses. Even better, if lawmakers eliminated all corporate welfare in the budget, this tax relief could happen sooner and bring an immediate boost to Pennsylvania's economy and creating more well-paying jobs.
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For more information, please contact Dawn Meling at 724-968-8311. The Commonwealth Foundation (www.commonwealthfoundation.org) crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.