HARRISBURG – In response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first budget address today, Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) called for a more responsible approach to solve the financial challenges facing Pennsylvania.
“I am very encouraged the governor is interested in getting vocational and technical training back into our schools,” Dush said. “We’re seeing an increase in interest in that training and this change in policy is long overdue.”
“However, he’s looking at things that are going to be significant cost drivers, and we are going to have to take a serious look at those proposals,” continued Dush. “His list of ‘non-negotiables’ are not things that people in my area of Pennsylvania can afford.”
Dush said that while the governor’s support for Senate Republican priorities such as workforce development, infrastructure advancement, safe communities and mental/behavioral health are appreciated, the plan still boosts state government spending to unsustainable levels.
Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars that backfill federal funding that was cut by the Biden Administration at the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In addition to the many spending proposals that are cause for concern, the budget appears to assume Pennsylvania will remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will burden all Pennsylvanians with an annual tax on electricity of nearly $670 million.
“I was disappointed Gov. Shapiro did not address RGGI,” said Dush. “There’s $670 million worth of impact on Pennsylvanians, including those on fixed incomes who are already seeing increases in their utility rates.”
Shapiro’s spending plan would also nearly erase Rainy Day reserves by the end of his first term in office, which would mean the state would face higher borrowing costs and be in a much worse position to weather any potential downturns in the economy.
Although Senate Republicans fought to build up the Rainy Day Fund over the past two years to more than $5 billion, the fund’s reserves still remain below the national average.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin a series of public hearings on Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget plan on March 20.
CONTACT: Zack Ankeny