Senate Republican Leadership Statement: Massive Spending Increase in Shapiro Budget Raises Concerns

HARRISBURG – The massive $3.2 billion increase in state spending in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 state budget raises concerns for Senate Republicans, said Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13).

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39)

“Gov. Shapiro’s multibillion-dollar budget proposal reflects an undisciplined strategy that lacks accountability. Shapiro boldly confesses his spend plan is ambitious and uncompromising as it can only be implemented ‘as is.’ Shapiro’s spend plan is reckless in a ‘unicorns and rainbows’ way and would lead to significant tax increases for Pennsylvanians at a time of historic inflation and uncertainty for our nation’s economy. Shapiro desperately wants Pennsylvanians to feel like they are on the right track but is instead granting government greater control over our lives and businesses. The truth is, such a plan would only bring more financial hardship for taxpayers and business owners across Pennsylvania and would put our commonwealth in the same category as other high-tax, bankrupt, blue states like California, New York and Massachusetts, not flourishing red states like Ohio and Florida.”

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41)

“The budget proposal put forth by Gov. Shapiro centers on massive spending increases without regard for the negative impact on taxpayers in future years. While the governor’s vision is shortsighted, our vision for Pennsylvania remains focused on pro-growth initiatives that respect taxpayers and their hard-earned money. Investing in measures which increase access to family sustaining jobs is a commonsense way we can improve the quality of life for the people we represent and strengthen our communities. When you have a maximum wage job you have greater stability, can plan for the future, are able to maintain your home and can help your children thrive. Once again this year I will be clear – the final budget for 2024-2025 will be a fiscally responsible product, regardless of how long it takes to reach agreement.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13):

“Lawmakers have worked extremely hard to right Pennsylvania’s financial ship and put our state in better shape to manage the challenges that lie ahead. Unfortunately, Gov. Shapiro’s budget would take our commonwealth in the opposite direction and put us on a path toward higher taxes and service cuts just a few short years down the road. We cannot reverse years of progress with a single-year spending spree that sacrifices our future. We need a responsible budget that helps grow jobs here and encourages families to put down roots here so we can reverse the negative economic and demographic trends that threaten our future stability. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make that happen.”

Shapiro’s plan represents a 7.1% increase in overall state spending. This level of new spending makes it extremely difficult to balance future budgets and maintain the state’s Rainy Day Fund savings account.

The governor’s budget would completely eliminate the state’s current and future budgetary reserves – including the state’s savings account, the Rainy Day Fund – over the next five years. However, the Shapiro Administration’s unrealistic spending and revenue projections mean the governor’s budget plans will likely create the need for deep spending cuts and painful broad-based tax increases on Pennsylvanians much sooner.

Shapiro’s budget approach runs in opposition to the cautious and responsible budgets Senate Republicans have fought to enact during the past several years. Recent budgets have earned praise from major credit rating agencies and led to a reduction of nearly $100 million in long-term debt service costs to taxpayers in the state’s most recent bond sale.

The increased spending in Shapiro’s budget would likely result in higher inflation, leading to increased costs at a time when many families are struggling just to put gas in their vehicles and food on their table.

The budget includes an unrealistic hike in K-12 education spending of $1.5 billion. The governor’s own budget office projections show this kind of increase is not sustainable in future years. Future projected education spending falls far short of the more than $7 billion suggested in the Basic Education Funding Commission’s report – a plan the governor’s administration just approved last month.

The budget also includes $127.1 million for the governor’s plan to merge the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education with the state’s community colleges.

Additionally, the plan seeks to increase mass transit funding by more than $280 million and proposes a new $500 million bond issuance for business sites development. New taxes are also included in the proposed legalization and regulation of adult-use cannabis and skill games.

Senate Republicans will work during the next several months to examine Shapiro’s budget proposal and search for greater efficiencies. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin its series of budget hearings to study the budget proposal on Feb. 20.

CONTACTS:  Erica Clayton Wright (Sen. Ward)
                       Kate Flessner (Sen. Pittman)
                       Jason Thompson (Sen. Martin)

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