Jun. 30, 2015

Historic bills now on way to governor, Gingrich says

HARRISBURG – Calling it a historic day in Pennsylvania, Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon) voted with the majority to send three major pieces of legislation to the governor, including the 2015-16 state budget, public pension reform and liquor privatization.

“For the first time in Pennsylvania history, a bill to privatize the state liquor system has made its way through both chambers of the General Assembly and is now on its way to the governor,” said Gingrich. “Once signed into law, this historic legislation will divest Pennsylvania of a wholesale and retail liquor system that has been in place for more than 80 years.”

On the final day of this fiscal year, the primary responsibility of the General Assembly is to pass a state budget. It did so, approving a $30.8 billion spending plan that Gingrich said is balanced, funds the core functions of government – including critical human services - and adds record levels of funding for basic education. It does all of this without raising taxes.

“The budget that we passed today contrasts sharply with the budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf, which comes with a price tag of about $8 billion in new taxes,” said Gingrich. “In fact, the governor’s plan would increase the state sales tax by 40 percent and expand it to include about 300 more items not presently taxed – such as non-prescription drugs, nursing home care and college dorm rooms, just to name a few. It would also increase the income tax by 21 percent, further inhibiting one’s ability to pay for the massive tax increases the governor is proposing.”

The House budget plan, which was approved by the General Assembly this week, would increase school funding to a record $11 billion, adding $25 million more for pre-K Counts, and $20 million more for special education. It would also provide $5 million for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, and increase funding for human services, programs serving those with disabilities and drug and alcohol programs. It would also reverse the governor’s proposed cuts to agricultural programs.

“As a former member of the House Appropriations Committee who has been intimately involved in determining how precious state resources are spent, I believe we have passed a sensible and sustainable state budget that takes into account the many needs of Pennsylvania citizens and addresses the fiscal realities of the Commonwealth,” said Gingrich. “I believe the governor’s budget proposal would be harmful to Pennsylvania citizens and would have a detrimental impact on jobs and the Commonwealth’s economic recovery.”

Finally tonight, the House passed a long-awaited public pension reform package that aims to reverse Pennsylvania’s $53 billion unfunded liability in the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). Senate Bill 1 would place new employees into a hybrid 401(k)-style and cash balance plan. State legislators would also come under the new retirement plan following election or re-election. Existing employees would remain in the current defined benefit program.

The three bills are now on their way to the governor.

Representative Mauree Gingrich
101st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Donna Pinkham