Local Elected Officials React to Budget Plans

HARRISBURG PA – A $36.1-billion 2020-2021 state budget, unveiled Tuesday (Feb. 4, 2020) by Gov. Tom Wolf, would raise Pennsylvania’s spending by about 4 percent but proposes no increases in state sales or personal income tax rates. Observers said state-owned universities, low-wage workers, business owners, and public school systems stood to benefit most from its passage.

“The budget rests on a larger-than-normal 4.5 percent surge in projected revenue growth of $1.6 billion, keyed by continued gains in sales and personal income tax revenue based on projections of growth in personal income ranging between three and four percent, and smaller gains in total employment,” Harrisburg PA’s PennLive news service reported.

Western Montgomery County legislators promptly offered their own takes on the spending plan. They hewed mostly to political party lines.

From 146th House District Rep. Joe Ciresi (Democrat)

“With a clear plan to reduce costs through comprehensive charter school reform, while increasing state funding for public education, this budget outlines a path for supporting our schools and providing property tax relief,” Ciresi said. “I am proud to be working with Governor Wolf as a partner in the push for education reform.”

If the budget was passed as presented, four school districts represented by Ciresi would share an additional $3.4 million in funding over current levels, he claimed, which includes $2.6 million in charter school cost reductions. Combined revenue or savings to Pottstown schools would rise by $1.27 million; to Spring-Ford, $914,374; to Pottsgrove, $703,768; and to Perkiomen Valley, $509,390, he reported.

From 147th House District Rep. Marcy Toepel (Republican)

“Once again, the governor is seeking to put the state at financial risk by proposing more spending, more taxes and more debt,” Toepel said. “Not only that, but he continues to reference idealistic plans with little to no supporting details. We need to seek ways to reduce spending and focus resources on proven programs and services that benefit Pennsylvanians.”

“I simply cannot support a plan that overspends so dramatically and would leave future generations with a mountain of debt. I look forward to coming together in the next few months and crafting a budget that is more responsible to our taxpayers.”

From state 24th District Sen. Bob Mensch (Republican)

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forwarded to reviewing this spending plan and questioning administration officials about their funding requests,” Mensch said. “Over the last 10 years, the Senate has trimmed more than four billion dollars from proposed budgets and blocked massive tax increases. We’ll take the same approach to this proposed budget.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three-week series of departmental budget hearings beginning Feb. 18, during which it will hear from cabinet secretaries and other administration officials about their plans for the coming fiscal year, Mensch noted. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.

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