Letter to the Editor: Wolf’s Budget Reflects the Wrong Priorities for Pennsylvania
The House Appropriations Committee concluded three weeks of budget hearings by hearing testimony from the governor’s Budget secretary:
“Over the past three weeks, House Appropriations Committee budget hearings have exposed the fact that Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal does nothing to prioritize vaccine distribution or getting Pennsylvanians back to work, which would help grow our economy and state revenues with it,” said Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) Instead, the governor’s budget continues his legacy of unmitigated overspending and seeks to inflict a punishing 46% tax increase on middle-class families and small businesses.”
Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) expressed his disappointment with the lack of attention to vaccine distribution or supporting the unemployment compensation system. Watch his remarks here: https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/pagopvideo/697521324.mp4
As was noted several times over the past three weeks, the governor’s budget address did not even mention vaccines once. While the Gov.’s Budget secretary Jen Swails brushed this off by saying, “I think we talk about it often enough, it doesn’t need to be in every address that we have,” Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester/Lancaster) observed that it is shocking the governor did not find it necessary to talk about the No. 1 issue on everyone’s mind during his largest speech of the year. Watch the exchange here: https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/pagopvideo/652782581.mp4
While House Republicans used today’s hearing to ask difficult questions regarding chronic overspending, vaccine distribution, support for the unemployment compensation system, and the impacts of the governor’s Personal Income Tax increase proposal, House Democrats broke off into a game of The Price is Right. After Swails was asked to guess the price of milk and bacon, Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga) took to the microphone to remind his colleagues of the impact of an overbearing and over-bureaucratic government on Pennsylvania’s farmers. Watch his remarks here: https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/pagopvideo/621966840.mp4
In May of last year, House Republicans worked with the Senate and the governor to enact a budget that fully funded education while keeping the lights on for state government for the following five months. Swails agreed that moment was crucial to provide stability for the people of Pennsylvania while we worked to determine the full impact on state revenues of the COVID-19 pandemic. House Republicans stood up to the challenges of governing while that budget passed without a single vote from the House Democrats.
Vice-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford) summarized the lessons learned regarding long-standing ideals about the role of government when he delivered the closing comments today. His full remarks can be watched here: https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/pagopvideo/545486901.mp4
“An overreaching and intrusive government, no matter how good the intentions, will always create more problems than it solves,” said Topper. “If you want a glimpse into what government-run health care would look like, take note of the vaccine rollout. If you want a glimpse into what happens when government says it will take care of you and provide for your needs, take note of the ineffectiveness of our unemployment compensation system. If you want a glimpse into what happens when centralized government decides what businesses are allowed to operate and which ones must close, look at the flawed and disastrous waiver system.
“Yes, each loss of life has been a tragedy. COVID 19 has been a tragedy. There will always be tragedies, disease and natural disasters, but government should never trade one public health crisis for another and never compound a tragedy by creating an environment where the citizens of the Commonwealth are not permitted to make a living, receive an education or pursue their dreams.”
In the end, however, we find ourselves in bipartisan agreement with Minority Chairman Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) who observed, “This governor has clearly put himself in a difficult spot and put Sec. Swails [in a difficult spot], of defending this budget proposal.” Watch his remarks here: https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/pagopvideo/905006525.mp4.
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