Berks County Delegation Urges Governor to Show Up at Negotiating Table, Get Serious About Enacting Fiscally Responsible State Budget
HARRISBURG – As the House Democrat-sanctioned state budget impasse reached Day 7, Berks County Republican Reps. Dave Argall, Sam Rohrer, Jim Cox and Carl Mantz urged Governor Rendell not to treat Saturday, July 7 as another day of rest or inaction, but to get serious about participating in a negotiation process that leads to a fiscally responsible 2007-08 state budget.
“There is only one reason for the current crisis:  The governor’s ever-increasing appetite for more spending and more taxes,? said Argall. “Enough is enough.?
On Saturday, June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, 96 House Republicans joined with 49 State Senators in voting to send a fiscally responsible state budget (House Bill 1286) to the governor’s desk for his signature that would have succeeded in holding the line on spending, not increasing taxes and keeping state government operational through the 2007-08 fiscal year. 
Unfortunately, in a straight party-line vote, 100 House Democrats voted against keeping state government functioning in yet another premeditated attempt to provide the governor with additional leverage for his original $27.3 billion state government budget proposal which includes more than $3.25 billion in new taxes, spending and borrowing.
“Governor Rendell needs to be responsible enough to show up to the negotiating table with members of all four caucuses and stop using the paychecks of 25,000 state employees as bargaining chips to force House and Senate Republicans to cast a vote for a fiscally irresponsible state budget,? said Rohrer. 
“The Senate Republican Majority deserves tremendous credit for continuing to hold the line against the governor’s unreasonable demands for increased taxation, out of control spending and excessive borrowing. The next few days could literally be the defining moment that determines whether our children and grandchildren are left holding the tab for both the governor’s and House Democrats excessive and insatiable appetite for more tax revenue,? added Rohrer.
Unless a budget agreement is reached by 11:59 p.m., Sunday evening, 25,000 state employees will be put on furlough without pay by the governor beginning on Monday, July 9. Impacted agencies and areas affected by state employee furloughs include the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the state’s five casinos, museums, welcome centers, civil service testing, issuance of permits by PennDOT and fire academy training for first responders.
“The governor is holding the people of Pennsylvania hostage in order to get his initiatives passed,? Cox said. “This is not the way the budget process is supposed to work. I have heard from many of my constituents in the 129th legislative district urging me to stand strong against any budget proposal that calls for borrowing against our future. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the governor has proposed with this state budget; increased spending and borrowing.?
Despite the fact the governor has yet to personally attend a single meeting of the four caucuses on the state budget, he continues to insist that his priority agenda items, such as his gas and electricity tax-dependent energy plan, increased mass transit funding and universal health care, be resolved before he is willing to sign a state budget. 
“These issues need not be attached to the budget and should not be attached to the budget,? Mantz said. “Yes, we need to address energy independence, meaningful health care reform and transportation funding. But these are complex issues that require careful consideration. We were elected to make informed decisions that will benefit the people of this Commonwealth, not to rubber-stamp anything the governor wants.?
Argall, Rohrer and Cox will continue to call on the governor to get down to business, resolve the state budget impasse in a fiscally responsible manner, keep all state employees on the job, and then work on other legislative initiatives that do not immediately impact the personal incomes of Pennsylvania citizens.
Rep. Dave Argall
124th District                     
Rep. Samuel Rohrer
128th District
Rep. Jim Cox
129th District
Rep. Carl Mantz
187th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Ty McCauslin
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9979
July 7, 2007