By Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Allegheny/Washington)
Since taking office in 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf has introduced or supported 11 different tax hike proposals. In fact, his first budget proposal would have cost taxpayers $12.5 billion over the last three years. This was unacceptable and the members of the Republican House crafted a budget that protected taxpayers from increased taxes. Although I wasn’t in the state House at the time, their prudent work helped prepare us for now.
Budget discussions are currently happening for the 2019-20 fiscal year; we are working toward the goal of a responsible, on-time budget with no tax increases. During his budget address in February, the governor proposed a spending plan of about $34.2 billion, about $1 billion over our current year’s budget, which we think was reasonable in total, but unbalanced in output. Our goal is to control spending and hold it below $34 billion, recategorized for continued growth.
Due to smart spending decisions at both the state and federal levels, we expect revenues to be $800 million above estimates when the fiscal year ends on June 30. I have been a strong advocate of aligning our spending to match our legislative goals by making workforce development a priority and not just a talking point.
Job creation is the single-most important factor in supporting Pennsylvania’s economy. That means focusing on hiring and training workers for the next generation of jobs and creating a solid infrastructure through which our economy can prosper.
Now is the time to strategically invest where we are working to transform how our government can better serve the taxpayer – and that means making sure jobs are filled and people are working. By improving education, training and job placement opportunities, Pennsylvania can fill the openings across the state that are already paying far above minimum wage, which means a stronger tax base to pay for the core functions of government.
I believe that we need to improve tracking the effectiveness and accountability of funding those core services. The House passed a series of budget reforms last month designed to increase accountability, and more are on the way. What good is throwing money at a problem if we can’t actually track whether this spending increase paid off?
Increasing funding for education is one of my primary goals. We need to increase funding for next year; however, it must be accountable and tracked for success in the classroom. I want to make sure we are setting school districts and our students on a sustainable path for long-term success.
Beyond the budget, I feel we must strengthen communities and support families. My House Republican colleagues and I are continuing to build on the successes of addressing workforce development, protecting and empowering crime victims, and reforming outdated and ineffective government processes and programs.
In the meantime, the initial draft of our House budget should be issued soon. This budget matters to every Pennsylvanian, every family and every job creator. Excessive spending and debt will not bring prosperity to Pennsylvania. The priority must be to keep spending increases at a minimum. We will continue to stand up for taxpayers and want to clear the way for people to fulfill the American Dream: a good education, a good-paying job or career, and a safe and secure home and community. Be assured, I will not vote to increase taxes, rather I will vote for a fiscally responsible budget which funds the Commonwealth’s needs.
Representative Bob Brooks
54th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner
717.260.6437 (office), 717.497.8478 (cell)