Governor Rendell, Fiscal Conservative

Commonwealth Foundation applauds veto of HB 1813
Harrisburg, PA — The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives applauded Governor Rendell’s decision to veto HB 1813, despite overwhelming support for this legislation in both the State House and Senate.  HB 1813 would have increased funding for community mental health and mental retardation centers and mandated future increases according to a federal measure of inflation.
In an October 2 memorandum responding to a request for analysis of HB 1813 by Sen. Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia), the Commonwealth Foundation expressed the same concerns voiced by Gov. Ed Rendell in his veto message.  The primary issues were the overall cost of the legislation to taxpayers, the effect mandatory increases would have on future health care costs, and removing discretionary authority from the General Assembly and the Governor in the budget process.
“We applaud Gov. Rendell for his fiscally responsible veto of a fiscally irresponsible bill,” said Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation.  “Although this legislation was well-intentioned, the inclusion of automatic spending increases was not financially prudent.  It would have removed the ability of lawmakers to evaluate the effectiveness, adequacy of funding, and alternatives solutions for these programs.”
In his veto message, Gov. Rendell echoed the concerns of the Commonwealth Foundation with a plan that would legislate automatic increases in state spending.  While proponents of this bill point to a need for increased funding for mental health services, any increase should occur through the appropriations process, not by creating a formula entitling agencies to automatic increases in funding each year.
“Gov. Rendell, along with Democratic Senators Ferlo, Fumo, and Mellow—the only “no” votes in either house—deserve recognition for the support of fiscally sound principles,” said Brouillette.  “While community mental health and mental retardation centers may desire an increase of funding, fiscal responsibility requires constant evaluation of the effectiveness and appropriateness of state spending—not mandatory and automatic increases in taxpayer subsidies.”
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The Commonwealth Foundation (   is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.
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