Short-Sighted Budget Has Cox Seeing Red

State Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks) today issued the following statement regarding the passage of Pennsylvania's 2007-08 fiscal year budget:

"Today, I voted against passing the latest version of the 2007-2008 state budget, which increases spending by a whopping 5.2 percent over last year's budget.

"Pennsylvanians have endured uncontrolled spending and borrowing, outrageous school property tax bills, a plethora of new taxes, and have been subjected to random cuts and the complete elimination of many valuable services and programs for far too long.  Sadly, the budget passed today continues in the spend now, pay now - and later, tradition.  It keeps us on the same irresponsible and unsustainable path that we have been on for years under the Rendell administration.

"With this budget, spending rises above the current rate of inflation of 2.2 percent, but reduces funding for many of the services that contribute to the very core of our state’s well-being, safety and future.

"Some of the more than $6 billion in new borrowing and other excessive spending that I rejected as part of the 2007-08 state budget include $11.5 billion in total welfare spending--($9.7 billion in general fund public welfare spending and $1.8 billion in special state funds earmarked for the Department of Public Welfare). Public welfare programs now account for an astounding 35.6 percent of the overall budget; the highest expenditure. $5 billion in new borrowing by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, 25 percent higher state turnpike tolls and new tolls on Interstate 80.  $145 million for the governor’s pet laptop computer and taxpayer-funded pre-school programs. And a Film Tax Credit Program that will cost taxpayers $75 million annually.

"Some of the services and funding being cut from last year's budget include the Department of Agriculture--cut by $4.2 million. Cuts include assistance for crop insurance--cut by 50 percent. Funding for agricultural research--cut by 20 percent. Support for the Center for Dairy Excellence--cut by 25 percent. Funding for Conservation Districts--cut by 8 percent. And State Police funding --cut by $7.3 million.

"This is not a fiscally responsible budget.  We are cutting funding that helps our farmers and funding that allows the state police to assist in keeping many of our rural communities safe while increasing funding for programs like public welfare programs which have been clearly shown to be fraught with fraud and abuse.

"The governor's budget also calls for $75 million to expand the new taxpayer-funded pre-schools that could force privately funded schools to close their doors, instead of building on the less expensive Preschool Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.  Adding insult to injury, this expansion of universal preschool throughout Pennsylvania could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars in higher property taxes.
"Two previous versions of the budget increased spending by 1.97 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.  Either of those budgets would have been budgets Pennsylvanians could have lived with.  Instead, after more than two weeks of political wrangling, the House Democrats have chosen to shackle Pennsylvania's taxpayers with an irresponsible budget that ignores a $650 million surplus.  In a year when government could have given property relief to its overtaxed citizenry, the House Democrats have reached into the pockets of taxpayers today, with a promise to reach into those pockets again in the future.  This budget should have EVERY taxpayer seeing red."

Rep. Jim Cox
129th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(610) 670-0139
(717) 772-2435
Contact:  Joe Pistorio
(717) 787-2932
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