Yesterday the Governor went before the state legislature to propose his 2013-2014 budget. Governor Corbett set his priorities to focus on education and job creation through the proposed budget. To see a video of his full remarks on the floor click here. To see the his press releases click here.
Senator Brubaker Responds to Gov Corbett’s Proposed 2013 Budget
Finance Chair Releases Statement on Budget, Addresses Pennsylvania’s Pension Crisis
HARRISBURG — Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement today regarding Governor Corbett’s spending plan totaling $28.4 billion and his intentions to address the approximately $44 billion unfunded liability surrounding the Commonwealth’s public employee pensions.
“The Governor has outlined his budget plan for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year and has increased funding for a number of well-deserved programs such as education, health and human services and Farmland Preservation. However make no mistake about it, these increases are hinged on comprehensive reform to the current pension system and the privatization of the state’s liquor stores and the state lottery.”
“I am a cosponsor of Senate Bill 2, legislation sponsored by my colleague, Senator Pat Browne, which is an attempt to limit additional accumulation of pension debt by making significant modifications for future employees’ pension benefits. However altering the pension plan for new employees merely stops the bleeding. That’s why further reform is also necessary to ensure our pension system is economically sustainable. The $44 billion unfunded liability is real and must be paid.”
“The Senate Finance Committee will be pivotal in moving legislation that will tackle the unfunded liability faced by the Commonwealth, and as Chair of that Committee, I am open to discussing all pension reform proposals. I look forward to working with my colleagues to finally address the pension crisis facing our Commonwealth and working towards a long-term solution that is in the best interests of all Pennsylvanians.”
Commissioner Bruce Castor has preemptively released an alternative to Governor Corbett’s budget address this afternoon. The full text of the press release is below.
HARRISBURG, PA. (Feb. 04, 2013) — Montgomery County Commissioner and prospective gubernatorial candidate Bruce Castor (R-Lederach) today outlined what he looks forward to hearing in Governor Corbett’s State Budget address to put the Commonwealth on a path to prosperity, and Pennsylvanians on the road to a better future.
Since Gov. Corbett’s agenda took effect in July of 2011, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has worsened from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent – even though unemployment nationally has improved from 9.0 to 7.9 percent (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics). While during the same period, the burden of state and local taxation upon Pennsylvanians has gotten heavier.
“Restoring Pennsylvania to its rightful place as the most prosperous state in America is within our reach,” Castor said. “But getting there will take the willingness to stand up to entrenched roadblocks, even if they are within one’s own party.”
These items, Castor hopes, will be a priority for Gov. Corbett:
- Enacting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) to cap spending by all levels of government — state to local, including school districts — at the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth. This will force government to eliminate waste, and live within its means. Pennsylvania is in the minority of states whose power to spend taxpayers’ money is unlimited.
- Repealing the Rendell tax hike, which would reduce the Personal Income Tax from 3.07% to 2.80%. This will give working Pennsylvanians more money to spend on their own priorities. Pennsylvanians bear the 10th heaviest burden of state and local taxes in the country, a ranking that hasn’t changed since Gov. Corbett took office.
- Reducing the Corporate Net Income (CNI) Tax from 9.99 to 7.99. Pennsylvania’s corporate tax is the 2nd worst in the nation, chasing job creators to other states. To date, Gov. Corbett has not lowered the CNI’s overall rate.
- Tightening Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Compensation programs, which are among the most expensive, liberally allocated, and defrauded in the nation. York-based Penn Waste, Inc. alone paid out nearly a half-million dollars in fraudulent workers’ comp claims this year. Nearly $700 million in wrongful UC claims were shelled out last year. Estimated savings to the Commonwealth would be $1.5 billion annually.
- Protecting workers’ freedom and paychecks by abolishing forced union membership, and ending automatic deduction of public union dues by the government. States with voluntary union membership have higher employment rates and higher wages (after adjusting for the cost of living). Paycheck protection measures ensure that union workers have the greatest amount of take-home pay possible while holding unions fully accountable for every dollar of their members’ money they spend.
- Replacing Prevailing Wage with Market Wage, as 18 states have done. This will save taxpayers an estimated $2 billion.
- Opting out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and instead giving enrollees meaningful choices of customized managed care plans, as has been done successfully in Florida. Estimated savings to the taxpayers would be $3 billion annually.
- Ending corporate welfare. Estimated savings to the taxpayer would be $380 million annually.
- Placing all new government hires — state, county, local and school district — into a unified defined-contribution pension plan, as well as capping future benefits of current enrollees. Some legislators have already accrued pensions ranging from 100 percent ($82,000) to 150 percent $125,000) of their salary, or more. The buck needs to stop there.
- Eliminating property taxation. The property tax is un-American and the least fair way to fund public schools. It is a barrier to home ownership for younger Pennsylvanians, and it is forcing seniors out of the homes they worked most of their lives to pay for.
- Creating Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for every parent in the Commonwealth to have maximum choice and flexibility in the education of their children. We must also provide merit pay for teachers who excel, and abolish teacher strikes.
- Selling the state liquor stores and using the upfront proceeds to pay down state debt, in order to minimize the pain of impending massive tax increases.
Key to enacting these policies is reforming the culture in Harrisburg, putting the business of the people first. Therefore, Castor encourages Gov. Corbett to also push for term limits in the General Assembly, as well as Rep. Dan Truitt’s (R-Chester) proposal to end per diems.
“These priorities, so warmly embraced by practical, commonsense conservatives, can be achieved with vigorous leadership from our governor,” Castor said. “I am confident that Gov. Corbett, using the same skills and energy he employed in choosing our candidates for 2012, will gain these legislative victories this spring, energizing Pennsylvanians and paving the way to the revitalization of our Commonwealth.”
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Governor Corbett along with other members of congressional leadership went to Philadelphia Thursday to promote their plan to revamp the current liquor control laws in Pennsylvania. PA is one of only two states to have a fully state-controlled liquor system. Under the new plan the state would get out of the business of marketing alcohol. Governor Corbett stated, “The state will no longer be a marketer of alcohol; instead, it will now focus on its role as a regulator.”
The transition of the new plan with produce $1 Billion in new revenue for the state. These proceeds will be allocated towards education with a proposed Learning Block Grant. The grant will allow public schools the ability to decide how the funds are allocated based on need rather than having the state dictate where money should be spent for an individual school.
While the transition produces $1 Billion in new revenue (selling off assets and licensing), the governor indicated that the rest of the actual proposal is fiscally neutral. Any revenue not returned to the state due to the privatization will come back in restructured fees. Increased enforcement will be paid for through increased fines towards violations.
“Our proposal is part of my commitment to changing Harrisburg, streamlining government and moving Pennsylvania forward,” Corbett said. “Our plan gives consumers what they want by increasing choice and convenience, and helps to secure our future by adding $1 billion in funding toward the education of our children, without raising any taxes.”
Even though we just finished an election, and people are sick of hearing about this stuff…it seems as though it is already time to be looking ahead to the PA 2014 gubernatorial race. After the poor showing by PA republicans for statewide candidates this year, pundits are considering the influence that Gov. Corbett had on the party’s popularity.
Experts speculate that Corbett will face serious opposition, if not in a Republican primary, most certainly from a Democratic challenger.
On the Republican side, Corbett could be challenged from the conservative base by a candidate like Sam Rohrer since many conservatives do not look on Corbett fondly. While many conservative legislators may consider a run, making that jump has historically proved challenging. Among the top legislators would be Majority Leader of the House Mike Turzai, Marjority Leader of the Senate Dominic Pleggi, or Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Jake Corman. Another possibility would be a wealthy businessman such as Steve Welch who recently was defeated in the primary for US Senate by another wealthy businessman Tom Smith.
On the Democratic side, its all the usual suspects. Potential candidates include: former Governor Ed Rendell, former Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Onorato, former Senate candidate Joe Sestak, current statewide officers such as, Treasurer Rob McCord or Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Governor Corbett takes to YouTube to sell his budget and address some of the long term issues facing the commonwealth. Is he doing enough to sell his budget?
Isn’t the commonwealth getting more tax revenue than they originally anticipated in tax collections? Shouldn’t we just use that extra revenue for education and social services?
FreedomWorks is launching a major, weeks-long campaign to pressure state lawmakers, including Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, to pass a school choice bill in the month of June.
Listen to the ad.
From the Freedomworks Website.
We believe that unless we turn up the heat on the General Assembly and the Governor, they won’t pass a school choice bill that will save children in failing schools, save the commonwealth’s taxpayers money and encourage competition between schools – all of which are important goals in our school choice campaign.
Thousands of our members and allies in Pennsylvania have taken action for school choice, and we appreciate all of their efforts thus far. If you haven’t weighed in on this campaign, please do so now by calling Gov. Tom Corbett at (717)-787-5825 and ask him to lead on school choice in Pennsylvania by doing what is necessary to drive the process.