HARRISBURG — Senator Lisa Baker, R-20th, offered the following reaction to Gov. Tom Wolf’s annual budget address:
“The good news for taxpayers, those who rely on state services, and those who depend on state funding support is that Pennsylvania’s financial picture is in better shape than it has been for many years. However, I believe we must keep a tight rein on spending. The additional $1.5 billion in new spending and more than $1 billion in new borrowing raise serious concerns.
As with any budget plan, the governor’s proposal comes with many pros and cons that will need to be closely examined in the months ahead.
Overall, this proposed budget has fewer objectionable provisions in contrast to previous budgets. But it is still a mixed bag of measures that have failed or been rejected in the past along with some promising new ideas for addressing critical issues.
This is illustrated by the need to better protect and serve vulnerable populations and diminish waiting lists. The governor and legislators are making this a priority and pushing for laws and funding to accomplish it.
An area of constructive bipartisan concentration and agreement in recent years has been workforce development and initiatives for worker training and skills acquisition. The governor offers several ideas we can use to build upon recent progress. However, flat funding for community colleges appears to undermine these plans.
There are several potentially significant holes on the revenue side of his plan, because the governor persists in pushing for dedicated taxes and fees that have not gained any legislative traction in prior sessions.
We will aggressively pursue the community compensation for facility closures plan recently announced, whether it becomes part of the budget process or an item on which agreement is reached beforehand.”