As lawmakers debate the details of a new state budget, it’s crucial to remember what our state constitution requires them to do.
The Pennsylvania Constitution does not require a budget by June 30; nor does it even say they must pass a budget annually.
What the Constitution does require is a balanced budget. Here’s the key sentence from Article VIII, Section 13: “Operating budget appropriations made by the General Assembly shall not exceed the actual and estimated revenues and surplus available in the same fiscal year.”
Passing an appropriation bill that doesn’t match revenues violates our state constitution.
Legislators' urge to flee Harrisburg without a balanced budget resembles Cinderella fleeing the ball when the clock strikes midnight—but this story won’t have a fairy tale ending.
Last year, the budget passed before a revenue plan, and was never truly balanced. Lawmakers were then forced to enact a $650 million tax hike that has destroyed vape shops and led to slow economic growth—resulting in yet another deficit.
As Bob points out in a new commentary, we can learn from these mistakes. Instead of job-killing tax hikes or borrowing gimmicks that just kick the can down the road, lawmakers should tackle the fundamental reforms that would address our deficit and provide long-term solutions.