By Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46)
Thanks to federal tax reform, a booming national economy and state lawmakers holding the line against Governor Wolf’s reckless attempts to increase broad-based taxes, Pennsylvania’s economy is in a better position than it has been in over a decade.
Employee wages continue to climb, and with more than 6.2 million jobs in the state, there are more people working in Pennsylvania today than at any time before. In fact, our unemployment is at an all-time low of 3.8 percent.
We expect to have a surplus in this year’s state budget. As of the end of April, tax collections are nearly $800 million more than expected.
This is all welcome news but it comes with a warning. Often, when the economy is good, lawmakers are tempted to spend every last dime. Unfortunately, that leaves our state poorly prepared for the future.
The state’s rainy day fund currently stands at just $23 million – enough to run state government for about 6 hours.
Voters sent me to Harrisburg in large part because they were worried about how the state handles their tax dollars. My constituents in Southwestern PA regularly share their frustration with high taxes and increasing debt.
We can do better, which is why I have introduced the Taxpayer Protection Act. This legislation ensures government does not grow faster than families’ ability to pay for it.
Pennsylvania is in the minority of states in having no spending controls in place. According to the Urban Institute, 28 states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation.
My legislation would require a “supermajority”—two-thirds of all House and Senate members—to increase state government spending faster than inflation and population growth. This guardrail makes it more difficult for politicians to overspend, allows for modest but sustainable growth in government spending, and keeps more dollars in the hands of Pennsylvania families.
Under my proposal, revenues collected above the spending cap would first be used to build up our rainy day fund to ensure we are prepared for the next recession or natural disasters. Amounts exceeding a reasonable rainy day fund would be returned to Pennsylvania families and businesses in the form of lower taxes.
That relief is much needed for our working families. If the TPA had been in place since 2003, and lawmakers stuck to the cap, Pennsylvanians would have kept $11,000 per family of four.
By limiting government growth, the TPA keeps money in the hands of job creators and employees who know best how to spend it. This would help ensure Pennsylvania stays on the path of prosperity, giving our children and grandchildren opportunities here at home in Southwestern PA.
CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463