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“It is encouraging to hear a budget address that does not include calls for massive increases in broad-based tax increases. Finally, it would seem the Governor understands that working Pennsylvanians pay enough taxes as it is.  I look forward to working with him and my colleagues in the General Assembly to deliver a balanced, responsible state budget.

Over the past two years, I have heard from countless taxpaying constituents that we must find greater efficiencies in state government instead of taking money out of their pockets.  The Governor’s proposal relies heavily on savings generated through the consolidation of several state agencies. I agree we should be looking for ways to streamline government and save taxpayer dollars. However, it is painfully obvious that his budget does not deal with the single greatest cost driver for current and future budgets, the skyrocketing public pension obligations.  No amount of cuts and efficiencies will ever be able to compensate for the growth of pension liabilities in the absence of pension reform.

The Governor continues to push a severance tax on natural gas extraction which I find to be troubling.  I have personally seen the loss of jobs in my district as natural gas companies have been forced to lay off workers due to low gas prices and policies that inhibit progress. Natural gas companies already pay hundreds of millions of dollars in state taxes and through the Impact Fee. Jobs and livelihoods depend on the natural gas sector. We should not pass another tax that will chase them away.

As I learn more about the governor’s budget proposal in Appropriations hearings over the next several weeks, the priority will be finding out exactly how much money these steps will save and how Pennsylvanians will be affected.

As the Senate Chairman of Agriculture, I will be delving deeper into the Agriculture budget and the proposed 24% cuts. Specifically, we need to learn more about the lease-back proposal of the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex and the elimination of funding for the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School.

With this budget proposal comes the need for a thorough vetting by the Appropriations Committee; I have more questions about this budget than I do answers and I look forward to determining what is best for taxpayers and the agricultural community.” 

CONTACT:               Anthony Tammaro

atammaro@pasen.gov