Hess Says State Employee Furloughs Unnecessary
6/17/2008
Lawmaker urges reduced spending, borrowing and taxation in state budget
 
With the fiscal year quickly coming to a close, Rep. Dick Hess (R-Bedford/Fulton/Huntingdon) is co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent the governor from furloughing state employees if the state budget is not completed by the statutory deadline of June 30.
 
“Quite frankly, the governor’s plan to lay off state employees due to a budget impasse is unfounded,” Hess said. “It is unfortunate that he has once again chosen to use state employees as pawns to force the General Assembly to support his excessive spending and borrowing proposals.”
 
Hess is referring to last year’s budget battle when on July 9 Gov. Ed Rendell furloughed more than 24,000 state employees because a budget was not enacted. Citing the Pennsylvania constitution, Hess said that as chief executive of the Commonwealth, the governor has latitude when it comes to executing the duties of his office.
 
“With the skyrocketing cost of fuel, groceries and utilities, I am disappointed the governor would take this action against state workers,” Hess said. “Especially during the current economic climate, no one can afford to go without a paycheck.”
 
Although the furlough only lasted for one day last year, state government operations were affected, including driver’s licensing and registration services, state parks and other programs that citizens rely on.
 
The governor’s recent call for state employee furloughs stems from his budget proposal he presented to the General Assembly in February, which calls for more than $28.34 billion in spending. This results in an additional $1.13 billion, or a 4.2 percent increase over last year’s budget.
 
“In the five years the governor has been in office, he has increased spending by more than $7 billion,” Hess said. “This is an excessive rate of spending being put on the backs of the working families across the Commonwealth. We need to reduce spending and borrowing or future generations will be burdened with extraordinary debt payments.”
 
Rendell also plans to borrow more than $2 billion for the Jonas Salk Legacy Fund, the Energy Independence Fund, a planned increase in the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RCAP) and the new Rebuilding Pennsylvania plan.
 
“Tax, borrow and spend has been the battle cry from the governor since 2003,” Hess said. “For every dollar we borrow now, it will cost us more in the long term to pay back.”
 
The governor’s budget also calls for an additional $230 million in new taxes, including a tax on home insurance policies.
 
“I find it interesting the number of ways Rendell tries to squeeze additional money from Pennsylvania citizens,” Hess said.
 
Hess noted that as the fiscal year comes to a close, he is hopeful that the governor and the legislature will complete a fiscally responsible budget on time without having an effect on state employees. 
 
“Although hopeful, I am not optimistic, hence the reason for my support of legislation to prevent the governor from furloughing employees,” Hess said. “Since 2003, not one budget has been completed before June 30, and with the longer delay of introducing the budget bill, rest assured we are going to be in Harrisburg after July 1.”
 
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