A few misconceptions surrounding the House Republicans’ plan to balance the budget need to be corrected. First, the plan would redirect just 14 percent of the $9.3 billion held in shadow budget fund reserves (as of September 7) to pay the state’s bills for the prior fiscal year.
Second, contrary to the claims of special interests, the plan does not seek to reduce annual operational spending for these funds—though that is something Commonwealth Foundation has supported in an effort to prioritize spending.
The money taxpayers contribute to these funds will continue to be distributed annually without harming the funds' operations. As I pointed out yesterday, these funds have built up massive reserves even after making annual payments. Indeed, some of these funds–including those relating to mass transit–have not seen a significant reduction in reserves at any point during the past three years.
“If the goal is to get to no expense for government, we can do that. Then we’d have no schools, we’d have no roads, we’d have no police, we’d have no judicial system.”
In other words:
(Cartoon reprinted courtesy of Tim Hartman)
This is a textbook example of a straw man argument. Call me crazy, but using tax dollars in these reserves to pay for an $80 billion operating budget doesn’t sound like the elimination of schools and police to me.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Wolf threatened that “people will get hurt” if lawmakers don’t pass a tax hike.
Here’s the reality: Gov. Wolf’s preferred solution—a $600 million tax hike and more than $1.2 billion in borrowing—would be detrimental to Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth. The plan he supports would reduce the number of jobs available by more than 3,500.
The tax package would also hit almost every family in Pennsylvania with higher heating bills, higher electric bills, and higher cell phone bills. Put plainly, the governor's preference is one Pennsylvanians can't afford.