HARRISBURG — Senator Lisa Baker, R-20th District, issued the following comments regarding Senate approval of a revenue package to bring the state budget into balance:
“After a lot of discussion with constituents and local groups, and assessing the challenges facing Pennsylvania, I reluctantly cast a “yes” vote on the revenue package. It is now several months past the deadline. We needed to end the uncertainty for service providers and those who depend on state services over the prospect for severe funding cuts in the weeks ahead, if action did not occur soon. The chief advantage of this package is that it eliminates the immediate worry about funding cuts or funding elimination, a particular concern for the state-related universities and the many Pennsylvania students attending them.
The inescapable reality is this was the only bill that could get a majority vote in the House. Many revenue ideas have been raised and discarded since summer. Based on this track record, it did not appear there was a more viable alternative forthcoming.
Another consideration was that the continuing budget deadlock was diverting time and energy from other important issues that are public priorities and warrant greater legislative attention.
Just to be clear, the concerns I have repeatedly expressed about the negative consequences of heavy borrowing and gambling expansion are still valid. This was the available way, not a preferable way, to close the substantial gap between approved spending and anticipated revenue.
This package will, if all its parts are realized, put the state budget into balance this year. It will not reverse the drop in the state’s credit rating that will bring additional costs in years to come. And it seems nearly certain that the problems and arguments will recur in next year’s budget.”
Andrew M. Seder