Ill-Conceived Budget Proposal Unveiled, Cox Says
2/4/2009
HARRISBURG – Gov. Ed Rendell today unveiled his plans for addressing the state’s ballooning $2.3 billion budget deficit and looming budget negotiations for the coming fiscal year, state Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks) announced.
 
            “The governor addressed the General Assembly today and detailed a proposal for a $28.97 billion state spending plan,” Cox said. “That figure represents a $705 million increase over the current year’s spending figure. With respect to the current fiscal situation and the lackluster economy, it is incomprehensive to propose an increase in state spending.”
 
            Revenue collections in the Commonwealth are expected to miss by at least $2.3 billion at the end of the fiscal year and the two-year deficit is even higher. Several lawmakers expect the total budget hole to skyrocket to $5.5 billion or more by July of 2010.
 
            Cox and other House Republicans are again encouraging their colleagues to fundamentally re-evaluate the purpose of government and make needed reductions to the responsibilities and size of government. Already, the government has eliminated $556.8 million as a result of the 2008-09 budget freeze.
 
            “I commend the governor for taking the first of many steps to attack Pennsylvania’s fiscal woes, but more has to be done,” Cox added. “Opportunities to eliminate waste and save taxpayers money are commonplace in the state budget. Just last month, Auditor General Jack Wagner released a report showing that as many as 14 percent of those currently collecting Medicaid benefits from the state are doing so fraudulently.”
 
            Also during Rendell’s budget address, lawmakers heard plans to use $3.5 billion in federal fiscal relief over the next two years and legalize video poker as a source of revenue.
 
            “I have a great deal of concern regarding our dependence on federal bailout funds,” Cox said. “The federal economic plan faces an uncertain future and these figures are by no means a check-in-hand. I also have reservations regarding our increased reliance on gaming funds. Similar gaming ‘solutions’ for the burden of property taxes have yet to provide the relief promised to residents.”
                 
            House Republicans, while happy that broad-based tax increases and furloughs of state employees were absent from this budget proposal, remain concerned about the governor being out-of-touch with the tough economic challenges that lie ahead for all Pennsylvanians.  
 
            For the latest legislative news and information regarding budget negotiations, visit Cox’s Web site at RepJimCox.com.

Rep. Jim Cox
129th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(610) 670-0139
(717) 772-2435
Contact: Joe Pistorio
(717) 787-2932
Member Site: RepJimCox.com
Caucus Site: PAHouseGOP.com