PA Legislature Moves to Protect Taxpayers from Habitual Overspending
Today, the Senate State Government Committee took a positive step toward putting Pennsylvania’s finances back on solid ground by passing the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA) or House Bill 110—sponsored by Rep. Ryan Warner.
HB 110, which is similar to legislation sponsored by Senators Folmer and Bartolotta, reasonably caps spending increases based on the rate of inflation and population growth.
“For too long, working families have been at the mercy of unbridled government spending,” explained Bob Dick, senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation. “The TPA is an important first step to controlling spending while protecting family budgets and avoiding the risky borrowing and harmful tax increases of recent years.”
For the past 15 years, state spending has outpaced economic growth, and total state spending crossed the $80 billion mark for the first time this fiscal year. The state’s total operating budget has consequently leapt to more than $16,600 per family of four or $4,153 per resident. In fact, over the last three years the current administration has increased spending by more than the prior eight years combined.
“If these commonsense restraints on spending growth are put in place, the average Pennsylvanian can feel much more assured that their state government won’t spend itself into insolvency—at their expense,” continued Dick. “Instead, lawmakers will have to prioritize how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money to ensure sustainable growth that respects taxpayers’ wallets.”
Under the TPA, spending would increase at a much more manageable rate, saving Pennsylvanians billions in tax dollars. If the TPA had been implemented in 2003, Pennsylvania would have had a cumulative savings of $32.4 billion as of fiscal year 2017-18. That equals $10,000 per family of four.
Spending limits are popular among Pennsylvania voters.
Polling shows that 64 percent of voters agree that state government growth should be restrained. Support crossed party lines with 71 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Democrats, and 59 percent of Independents voicing their support.
“Because this is an amendment to the state constitution, TPA must be passed by both houses of the legislature again next year before being presented to the voters for ratification,” Dick explained. “Considering the popular support spending limits have throughout Pennsylvania and the laudable passage of the bill by the Senate committee today, we are very optimistic the amendment will pass.”
Learn more about the Taxpayer Protection Act.
Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres at 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.