Peiffer supports new approach to resolving budget
HARRISBURG - With the state budget impasse now in its third month, Rep. Mike Peifer (R-Monroe/Pike/Wayne) joined dozens of lawmakers – both Democrats and Republicans – in supporting a proposal by Rep. Craig Dally (R-Northampton) to pursue a new approach to getting the budget done.
Rather than leave the negotiating up to a few legislative leaders, Peifer and others want the House to resolve into a Committee of the Whole, where anyone can bring up a budget proposal for open discussion and debate. During regular session, the majority leadership determines which bills come up for a vote and which ones don’t. Also under the proposal, the House would be in session every day until the budget passes, and only the budget bill could be discussed or voted upon.
“At this point, we need to lock ourselves in a room and throw away the key. For 72 days, the people of Pennsylvania have been waiting for a budget. They have waited long enough,” Peifer said. “Clearly, the ‘traditional’ process of drafting a state budget is not working. Now is the time to challenge conventional thinking and start finding solutions.”
This year’s impasse has gone on longer than any in recent history. The 1977 state budget was signed into law on Aug. 21, with a supplemental budget that included a tax increase being passed in December of that year. The 1991 impasse ended Aug. 4, with the passage of the largest tax increase in Pennsylvania history.
“In this time of economic recession, people are telling me – and all of us in the Legislature – that they simply cannot afford to hand over more of their hard-earned money,” Peifer said. “In tough times, families and businesses have to live within their means. They expect – and deserve – their government to do the same.
“As a member of the Policy Committee’s Budget Task Force, I was working back as far as February on a resolution to what we all knew would be a very challenging budget year,”
The governor originally proposed a 16 percent increase in the personal income tax to balance his spending plan. While that tax proposal appears to be off the negotiating table, the governor and Democrat Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) remain insistent upon some new taxes and are using citizens and the services they rely on to leverage support.
“The governor has a history of creating crisis by not paying state employees,” Peifer said. “This year, he has taken it a step further by adding service providers and virtually all citizens to his group of hostages. His actions are just wrong.”
In the minority, House Republicans have, on three separate occasions, offered responsible, balanced budget proposals that do not require a tax increase. The latest plan, House Bill 1943, funds all vital government services and increases the state’s investment in public education without increasing taxes.
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