Commonwealth Foundation Testifies Before House Appropriations Committee on Senate Budget Plan

HARRISBURG, PA — Commonwealth Foundation president and CEO Matthew J. Brouillette testified today before the House Appropriations Committee that the Senate’s budget plan (SB 850) is a step toward putting Pennsylvania on a path to prosperity.  

“You really only have two choices: you can raise taxes or you can reduce spending,” Brouillette told lawmakers. “You can do both, of course, but raising taxes during a recession for more government spending is precisely the wrong prescription for our current economic ills.  Even Keynesian economists recognize that raising taxes now would be harmful to our economy.”

Brouillette cited a Commonwealth Foundation analysis of the 50 states indicating that those with the lowest tax burdens and that cut taxes the most had much faster economic growth than states like Pennsylvania with high and rising tax burdens. He reminded the Committee that Pennsylvania has the 11th highest burden of state and local taxes in the nation, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation, and that adding more weight to it would be economically harmful. 

“The Senate’s budget plan recognizes these economic realities,” he added. “SB 850 is a fiscally responsible step toward prosperity.” Brouillette noted that the budget adopted by the Senate (SB 850) leaves the Rainy Day Fund untouched while spending only what revenue the state is projected to collect plus the federal stimulus money.  It also takes into account, he said, that when the billions in federal stimulus dollars go away in 2011, the state could face an even larger budget deficit if spending isn’t reduced now.

Brouillette decried the Rendell Administration’s criticism of SB 850 as being “bare bones,” noting that SB 850 represents an increase in General Fund spending of more than double the rate of inflation since Gov. Rendell took office (36.2% versus 17.5%).  SB 850 provides the average school district with a 12% increase in funding, Brouillette noted, “a fact completely ignored by those lobbying for higher taxes and higher spending. The reality is despite the fact that most Pennsylvanians are struggling in this economy, state government and those living off taxpayer money have very little to complain about.” 

“Now is the time to practice fiscal restraint and rein in wasteful spending in Harrisburg,” Brouillette said.

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Editor’s Note:  Read the full testimony here, and view accompanying charts and related information here.

The Commonwealth Foundation ( is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg.