In advance of next week's budget address by the governor, 10 House lawmakers held a press conference on Thursday to offer positive budget solutions.
The Common Sense Caucus brought attention to Pennsylvania's destructive pattern of spending above and beyond revenues. The group called for limiting spending growth in the 2018-19 budget to about $100 million—or a total General Fund budget of $32.1 billion. Those numbers are based on the consumer price index in Philadelphia.
Putting a spending limit into statute or in the State Constitution could go a long way towards ensuring a balanced budget without tax hikes and put Pennsylvania on a path of economic growth for years to come.
Legislation to amend the State Constitution to limit spending growth to inflation plus population growth passed the state house in December. That bill (HB 110) now sits in the Senate State Government Committee.
Reckless spending and borrowing is just one of many government threats to Pennsylvania jobs. In an op-ed on the Common Sense Caucus Rep. Dawn Keefer explained:
There’s a complete disconnect in government when it comes to economic growth. Legislators talk about their support for jobs and the economy, but promote and advocate initiatives such as new or increased licensing mandates, debilitating regulatory requirements and relentless fee increases for permits and licenses that ultimately serve as road blocks for economic growth.
In addition to spending limits, the lawmakers have sought welfare reforms that require work, education, or community service to help people raise their incomes and regulatory reforms to eliminate duplicative rules and enforcement uncertainties that overload job creators.
These same lawmakers were also instrumental in shining a light on the shadow budget. $300 million from these idle funds went to balance the 2017-18 budget. But much more work needs to be done to bring accountability to these off-budget accounts.
As conversations over next year's budget begins, it is encouraging to see a group of lawmakers looking beyond the next budget and seeking solution that will put Pennsylvania on the right path for years to come.