HARRISBURG – In response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first budget address today, Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) called for a more responsible approach to solve the financial challenges facing Pennsylvania.
While the governor’s support for Senate Republican priorities such as workforce development, infrastructure advancement, safe communities and mental/behavioral health are appreciated, Hutchinson said the plan still boosts state government spending to unsustainable levels.
“The message we heard today is that there’s a lot of money being spent,” said Hutchinson. “I’m always concerned about living beyond our means. That being said, we’re going to look closely over the next several months at the governor’s priorities and new programs. I have a funny feeling there won’t be enough money for everything.”
Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars that backfill federal funding that was cut by the Biden Administration at the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In addition to the many spending proposals that are cause for concern, the budget appears to assume Pennsylvania will remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will burden all Pennsylvanians with an annual tax on electricity of nearly $670 million.
Hutchinson noted Shapiro questioned RGGI a year ago when he was a gubernatorial candidate, but the proposed budget is moving forward with a policy that the people of this state can’t afford as inflation is hurting everyone.
Shapiro’s spending plan would also nearly erase Rainy Day reserves by the end of his first term in office, which would mean the state would face higher borrowing costs and be in a much worse position to weather any potential downturns in the economy.
Although Senate Republicans fought to build up the Rainy Day Fund over the past two years to more than $5 billion, the fund’s reserves still remain below the national average.
Hutchinson expressed his disappointment that Shapiro’s budget plans to close the Polk State Center, something the governor is doing without having any conversations with the affected community.
Though the governor spoke of accelerating the reduction of Pennsylvania Corporate Net Income Tax, something Hutchinson said he is interested in doing, the senator observed, “He only paid it lip service as it’s not in his budget proposal.”
“We need to reach out to job creators, we need to keep Polk Center open and we need to get rid of RGGI, which is going to hurt every single family in Pennsylvania,” said Hutchinson.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin a series of public hearings on Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget plan on March 20.
CONTACT: Justin Leventry