State Budget Reins In Spending and Boosts Education Funding, Says Hess
7/11/2008
Rep. Dick Hess (R-Bedford/Fulton/Huntingdon) today said that his support of the 2008-09 state budget centers on a sizable increase in education funding, no tax increases, slowed government growth and preserving the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund.
 
“This budget set priorities and required all parties to compromise on reducing state government spending,” Hess said. “We were able to provide additional money to school districts without negatively affecting taxpayers, and I am pleased with the final result.”
 
This year’s budget increases spending by 3.98 percent, or $1.08 billion, over last year to a total of $28.26 billion. The budget is less than the spending proposal offered by the governor in February, which called for a 4.2 percent increase, and less than the spending plan offered by House Democrats, which would have pushed spending up by 4.8 percent.
 
Fighting against the governor’s original plan to increase taxes by $230 million, House Republicans were successful at blocking this proposal and excluding it from the final budget agreement.
 
“To even discuss raising taxes was out of the question,” Hess said, referring to the higher costs of living including higher prices for gasoline, groceries and utilities. “Citizens are having a difficult time with personal finances and state government should be doing what it can to reduce the burden on taxpayers.”
 
Hess noted that a historic $274 million increase has been realized in education funding. In the governor’s proposal, school districts were slated to receive a minimum 1.5 percent increase. Under the approved spending plan, schools in the 78th District will receive increases ranging between 3 percent and 3.71 percent. 

“This is a big win for students and local taxpayers,” Hess said. “This additional funding will help to improve educational opportunities and reduce the cost on homeowners.”

He also noted that House Democrat leaders had proposed tapping the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund to support their 4.8 percent budget increase. The Rainy Day Fund, estimated to be approximately $742 million, is to be used for economic emergencies to help Pennsylvania recover from a financial slump. He added that although revenues have declined, it was not necessary at this time to use the Rainy Day Fund to pay for priority budget items.
 
“The Rainy Day Fund was never intended to create new programs or expand existing ones,” Hess said. “I am happy that we were able to keep the fund intact for future use.”
 
Hess also pointed out that House Republicans were able to strip more than $548 million out of the governor’s plan by making across the board 1.3 percent spending cuts in non-mandated state services.
 
“This is the first time in recent years that we were able to actually cut spending in state government,” Hess said. 
 
Although the final plan was passed after the June 30 deadline, Hess said that it was worth the wait to arrive at a budget that was fiscally responsible.
 
“We are in the midst of tough economic times and it was necessary to ensure that state government spending was below the rate of inflation,” Hess said. “Overall, I can say this is a good budget for the people of Pennsylvania.”
 
Rep. Dick Hess
78th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(814) 623-9097
(717) 787-7076
Contact: Tim Eller
House Republican Public Relations
teller@pahousegop.com
(717) 260-6242
Member site: DickHess.com
www.pahousegop.com