HARRISBURG — Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) issued the following statement today following passage of amendments to the Tax Code and other bills necessary to complete the 2016-17 state budget:
“I am thankful that the budget process was resolved in a timely manner without the severe consequences of last year’s prolonged stalemate. Our schools and service providers could not endure another lengthy period of financial uncertainty and hardship.
“The General Assembly’s work over the past two months has resulted in a number of positives for our local communities, including a modernized and improved liquor sales system, additional school funding to expand educational opportunities for young people, more resources to address addiction issues, and a limited growth in state spending for non-mandated costs.
“In reality, much of the spending increase in General Appropriations is driven by state and federal mandates relating to areas such as corrections, human services, and public employee pension costs. In fact, $485 million in new spending alone was required to fulfill the state’s public pension obligations. When you remove these mandated costs, this budget represents an increase of only about 1.8 percent over last year’s budget.
“While I supported the bipartisan spending compromise that was approved by lawmakers two weeks ago, the revenue package that was considered today differs significantly from the original package that was under consideration in late June. For this reason and the fact that pension reform was removed from the negotiation table, I voted against the amendments to the Tax Code.
“Going forward, I am hopeful that we can finally tackle the issues that have created long-term financial pressures on the Commonwealth, including public employee pension reform and measures to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in welfare programs. Lawmakers have met our responsibility to pass a balanced budget. Now our focus must shift to exploring ways to make future budgets more responsible and sustainable to reduce the imminent burden on taxpayers.”
CONTACT: Katrina Anderson (717) 787-1463