Freedom and opportunity are on the move in the Keystone State. In the past week, lawmakers have taken four serious strides for the families and business owners of Pennsylvania. We’re doing more with less—better education, smarter law enforcement, encouraging entrepreneurship, and restraining spending.
1. Spending Limits: Pennsylvania already has more than $10,000 in state and local debt per citizen. We’ve had five tax hikes in the last ten years. But this week legislative leaders in both chambers vocally emphasized the need for restraint when April's state revenue collections came in $800 million over estimates.
Lawmakers intend to put a portion of this windfall into the rainy day fund to offset some of this year’s cost overruns. That’s a significant departure from the spend-every-dollar-and-then-some pattern of the past.
Why not go a step further? We can bake fiscal restraint into every budget by passing the Taxpayer Protection Act to limit spending increases to the rate of inflation and population growth.
2. Educational Opportunities: Pennsylvania students haven’t reaped many benefits from the directionless spending increases in our education system. Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarships provide an innovative solution.
This week the House advanced Speaker Mike Turzai's HB 800, a proposal to expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit by $100 million and increase tax credits by 10 percent each year if 90 percent of scholarships are used.
That’s great news for those who submitted the over 27,000 applications that were denied in 2016.
3. Next-Gen Criminal Justice Reform: On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary committee advanced a package of bills known as JRI II or Justice Reform Initiative II. This three-bill reform package improves public safety by creating a fairer, more efficient criminal justice system.
The original Justice Reform Initiative of 2012 helped reduce incarceration rates and spending while improving public safety. The new JRI II reforms will empower county probation departments, use smarter sentencing guidelines, and enhance support for crime victims.
4. Regulations that Make Sense: Earlier in the week, the House passed most of its regulatory reform package. These bills seek to change the culture between businesses and government, ensuring there is an effort to work with businesses to achieve compliance. Specifically, the bills would make it easier to repeal existing regulations, track the status of unapproved permits, and require legislative approval for regulations that will cost more than $1 million a year.
Let’s stand and applaud the legislators who supported these impactful policies.