An Alternative To Tax Increases
8/11/2017
By State Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill
93rd Legislative District

      
Pennsylvania’s 2017-18 state budget remains incomplete. We have in place a plan to spend taxpayer dollars but not a fiscally responsible plan for how we will pay for all that spending. That is the primary reason I opposed House Bill 218, the general appropriations portion of the budget package, when it returned from the Senate June 30. You simply can’t spend money responsibly when you’re not sure from where it will come.

?After sharing the news of the Senate sending the House a plan to increase taxes on your natural gas consumption and electric and telephone bills, here are just a few of the responses I received:

  • “You people keep taxing us! Why don’t you learn to operate on a budget?”

  • “NO NEW TAXES.”

  • “Why keep taxing the middle class instead of balancing the budget?”
I’ve heard similar heartfelt concerns in person from visitors to the Shrewsbury and Stewartstown carnivals, firefighters and business owners. I’ve also been contacted by residents who moved to York County to escape problems that resulted from other states following the same tax-paved path Gov. Tom Wolf and some members of the General Assembly are now supporting.

Residents of the 93rd District are engaged in this debate because they know when Harrisburg refuses to manage its budget, state government often takes money out of their family budget. Our residents understand how to manage a budget better than some people in Harrisburg. They know how to responsibly run a household and expect state government to do that same thing. We like to call it good old York County common sense, although it’s a safe guess residents of other counties think similarly.

During this impasse, House Republicans are working on answers that do NOT view taxpayers as a default solution to spending problems. On July 31, I joined colleagues for a Facebook live work session where the Senate revenue bill was examined and questions were taken from across the Commonwealth. The next day, a mid-day town hall meeting on the budget drew a significant turnout in Fairview Township for a time of day many people might consider inconvenient.

At the state Capitol, a large working group has been poring over special fund accounts and uncovering fund balances that exceed $3 billion of taxpayer money. We’ve also discovered transfers of money in May that involved attempts to hide revenue from legislators and the public. This group is not at the main negotiating table, but it is attempting to see that the table is correctly set.

All the while, Gov. Tom Wolf is on the move…away from the fray. He’s been touring the state for different reasons, including discussing Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic. Yes, we do have a serious drug crisis on our hands; however, House leadership hasn’t heard from him in several months regarding the budget. Without a completed spending plan in place, how will we fund programs to solve critical public health and safety issues like the opioid crisis? Our residents deserve to have the governor seated and engaged at the budget negotiating table.

Gov. Wolf reacted favorably to the Senate plan to increase taxes, and refers to it as “recurring revenue” - code words for tax increases. There has to be a better way to fund this budget.

Taxes exist to fund essential government needs and functions. Increasing them should be done only when all other avenues to reduce spending have been exhausted. I’ve been part of enough budget working groups to tell you we have not exhausted every option. It is clear my constituents will not support a financially undisciplined and irresponsible way out of our current problem. They expect a plan that works toward resolving the underlying problems that caused our deficit. We owe this to ourselves and our children.

Representative Kristin Phillips-Hill
93rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137
slittle@pahousegop.com
RepKristin.com / Facebook.com/RepKristin

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