Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rep. Schroder: 'Tax hike not the answer'

Tax Hike Not the Answer to Pennsylvania's Spending Crisis

By Rep. Curt Schroder
R-Chester County

Gov. Ed Rendell has announced plans to raise the Personal Income Tax of Pennsylvania taxpayers by 16 percent, or a half percentage point increase as his answer to the state’s $3.2 billion budget shortfall.

The Rendell administration is spending a lot of time selling the idea that we have a revenue crisis in this state and more money is needed. We don't have a revenue crisis in Pennsylvania. We have a spending crisis and it's time we acknowledge it and begin dealing with it responsibly.

The state Senate recently passed a budget bill that was widely criticized for the depth of cuts it proposed. While the Senate bill was far from a perfect solution, it did reflect the economic realities facing lawmakers and Pennsylvania citizens.

Now is the time to scale back state government, to cut non-essential services and discretionary grant programs, and hold the line on spending. Yet, the governor's original budget proposed $700 million in new state spending even in the face of a massive deficit, at a time when people are losing their jobs and losing their homes to foreclosure. Now he proposes to take even more out of their paychecks. This is not a responsible or acceptable solution.

Last year, before passage of the 2008-09 budget, we were warned by Senate budget analysts that the proposed spending plan would result in a $1 billion deficit this year. They warned that revenue estimates were too high and unrealistic, and one-time revenue sources were being used. I rejected that budget, as did 31 of my House colleagues.

The taxpayers of this commonwealth need to know what is at stake. In order to maintain the level of state spending the governor is proposing, a broad-based tax increase like the one he has proposed would be necessary. Our current economic crisis could have been avoided if Pennsylvania's spending increases had stayed within the rate of inflation during the Rendell years. Under Rendell, the state budget has increased nearly 40 percent -- double the rate of inflation. Had we held spending to a modest 3 percent in each of the past six years, our spending would be in line with the revenues coming in today. Our budget would be balanced, important programs would be retained and there would be no danger of a tax increase.

Instead we are in a budget crisis. We are left with no easy choices, but the choices are clear. We must live within our means or prepare for a major tax increase. I will not vote for a tax increase, and I challenge those members of the General Assembly who are critical of efforts to budget responsibly to come clean with taxpayers and let them know which taxes they will raise in order to pass a budget that increases spending to the levels proposed by the governor.

Rep. Curt Schroder is a Republican who represents the 155th House District in Chester County. For more information, visit his Web site,

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