HARRISBURG – The Senate Appropriations Committee concluded three weeks of hearings on the proposed 2023-24 budget Friday with the Office of the Budget and Department of General Services.
Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget. Prior hearings touched on Independent Fiscal Office projections of annual structural deficits of more than $2 billion for the next five years if the governor’s budget is adopted, as well as Treasurer Stacy Garrity’s testimony that Pennsylvania’s credit rating could be improved by reducing the structural budget deficit and boosting the Rainy Day Fund.
Friday’s hearing began with Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) asking Budget Secretary Uri Monson why all Pennsylvania workers can’t get a tax cut instead of a few, select occupations getting a $2,500 tax credit as proposed by the governor.
Questioning also revealed that the proposed budget does not include any costs of the coming state employee labor contracts that will have to be negotiated, potentially leaving a huge hole in projected expenditures. Questions about how the RGGI carbon tax would function were left unanswered.
Committee members questioned General Services Acting Secretary Reggie McNeil about improving maintenance of state-owned buildings and grounds, as well Capitol security and other issues.
The severe impacts of the RGGI carbon tax coupled with Pennsylvania’s broken permitting process were detailed, including lost jobs, recent power plant closures and subsequent threats to grid reliability.
The Secretary of the Budget declined to comment on how the RGGI carbon tax would function.
The Shapiro Administration reiterated its support for continuing the reduction of the Corporate Net Income Tax that was championed by Senate Republicans in last year’s budget.
Additional details were requested regarding the governor’s plan to increase the 911 surcharge for mobile phone users.
Questions were raised about the Administration’s website to advertise abortion providers, including whether the site was created with the use of state taxpayer dollars and why alternatives to abortion were not included.
The Secretary of the Budget offered an update on steps taken by the Commonwealth to protect against cyber attacks.
Concerns were expressed about the long-term costs of the governor’s proposal to increase rebates in the Property Tax Rent Rebate program.
You can find recaps and video from every Senate budget hearing at PASenateGOP.com.
CONTACT: Jason Thompson