HARRISBURG – Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) voiced concerns today about the excessive $3.2 billion increase in state spending in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 state budget.
“Disappointing– That’s all I can say about the governor’s budget proposal presented today,” Sen. Yaw said. “An obvious omission from his diatribe was any reference to strengthening our energy sector or ensuring the reliability of our electric grid, all of which impact utility costs paid by homeowners and businesses. There was no reference to our burgeoning natural gas industry, the billions of dollars expected from two hydrogen hub projects, and the potential for lowering emissions through emerging carbon capture technologies. The pillar of any strong economy begins with energy.”
Shapiro’s plan represents a 7.1% increase in overall state spending. This level of new spending makes it extremely difficult to balance future budgets and maintain the state’s Rainy Day Fund savings account.
The governor’s budget would completely eliminate the state’s current and future budgetary reserves – including the state’s savings account, the Rainy Day Fund – over the next five years. However, the Shapiro Administration’s unrealistic spending and revenue projections mean the governor’s budget plans will likely create the need for deep spending cuts and painful broad-based tax increases on Pennsylvanians much sooner.
Shapiro’s budget approach runs in opposition to the cautious and responsible budgets Senate Republicans have fought to enact during the past several years. Recent budgets have earned praise from major credit rating agencies and led to a reduction of nearly $100 million in long-term debt service costs to taxpayers in the state’s most recent bond sale.
The increased spending in Shapiro’s budget would likely result in higher inflation, leading to increased costs at a time when many families are struggling just to put gas in their vehicles and food on their table.
The budget includes an unrealistic hike in K-12 education spending of $1.5 billion. The governor’s own budget office projections show this kind of increase is not sustainable in future years. Future projected education spending falls far short of the more than $7 billion suggested in the Basic Education Funding Commission’s report – a plan the governor’s administration just approved last month.
The budget also includes $127.1 million for the governor’s plan to merge the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education with the state’s community colleges.
Additionally, the plan seeks to increase mass transit funding by more than $280 million and proposes a new $500 million bond issuance for business sites development. New taxes are also included in the proposed legalization and regulation of adult-use cannabis and skill games.
Senate Republicans will work during the next several months to examine Shapiro’s budget proposal and search for greater efficiencies. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin its series of budget hearings to study the budget proposal on Feb. 20.