Reformers Want A
By: Bradley Vasoli , The Bulletin
Whether "the era of big government," in Bill Clinton's words, is indeed over, it lingers on in
The free-market Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives reports that between 1970 and 2006, state spending rose 160 percent. Meanwhile,
Now the Foundation and its allies in the General Assembly are taking action to reverse course.
State Senate Republicans have garnered enough votes to pass their Taxpayer Protection Act as both a statute requiring Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell's signature (SB 7), and as a state constitutional amendment requiring approval by voters (SB 707). The measure would restrict spending growth to the inflation rate plus the percent change in
The Commonwealth Foundation has joined the bills' respective sponsors, Bob Regola (R-Westmoreland) and Mike Folmer (
Calling it The Pennsylvania Diet Plan: Three Steps to Fiscal and Economic Health, the Foundation will advertise its Web-based educational effort via turnpike billboards and radio commercials. The ads will tell Pennsylvanians to put their government on a "spending diet" and will direct them to http://www.PADietPlan.com on which the Harrisburg-based think tank outlines three steps to fiscal health:
The site urges support for the Taxpayer Protection Act as well as HB 1100, which would require voter approval for any increase in property taxes.
Ultimately, Brouillette said, large-scale tax reduction cannot happen in
Since Rendell took office in 2003, state spending increased 28 percent. Much of this additional spending comprised Rendell's "investment" of tax dollars in corporate projects with an eye toward creating jobs.
Some beneficiaries of GAT largesse last year include Target Corporation, receiving $2,250,000 for a project in
Brouillette said that getting state legislators to see any folly in encouraging these GAT grants and other special projects for their districts has been difficult.
"Everybody's got their hand in the pot," he said.
But he says he has found, when speaking with many General Assembly members about their role in encouraging these spending projects, many believe they were not right to do so. Moreover, the Taxpayer Protection Act has 28 cosponsors while 27 votes are needed to pass, signaling to him that Republicans may be serious about desiring a leaner state government.
Neither Brouillette nor Folmer envision the governor signing the act, but Folmer says the constitutional amendment version may very well pass the House if a few members of its Democratic majority come on board.
"I do believe we can get legs in the House with that," Folmer said. "Those who are against it are against any kind of limits on government spending."
Every Senate Republican is listed as a cosponsor of the act, except for Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery and Bucks) and Robert M. Tomlinson (R-Bucks). Lisa Boscola (
Bradley Vasoli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org