Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pennsylvania needs a fiscal diet

The Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania's leading economic and public policy think tank, has come up with a common-sense approach to deal with the state's fiscal woes. Stop spending!! Especially money you don't have. And stop taking so much money away from hard-working Pennsylvanians.

The Foundation has unveiled "A Diet Plan for an Obese State Government" as part of campaign to educate Pennsylvanians about the state's fiscal and economic health.

The campaign features an informative and easy-to-navigate Web site,, radio commercials and a series of billboards along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and around the state Capitol.

The good doctors at the Commonwealth Foundation have a simple cure for what ails this state: Pennsylvania needs to go on a spending diet.

"For decades, jumbo-sized, pork-laden state budgets have made Pennsylvania state government overweight," according to a press release issued by the Foundation. "By choosing to grow government spending at a faster rate than taxpayers can afford, elected officials in Harrisburg have stunted our state's economic growth and competitiveness."

The Commonwealth Foundation says that between 1970 and 2006 -- when state spending increased 160% in inflation-adjusted dollars -- Pennsylvania ranked:
  • 49th in job growth,
  • 45th in personal income growth, and
  • 48th in population growth among the states.
So what's Gov. Ed Rendell's prescription to pull Pennsylvania out of this economic doldrums? Rendell wants Pennsylvania taxpayers to fork over $2 billion in new or expanded taxes to help balance his bloated $27.3 billion general fund budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Rendell may be tone deaf to the will of the people, but Pennsylvania voters sent a loud message to Harrisburg on May 15 when they overwhelmingly rejected Rendell's Act 1 tax-shift scheme.

Read my lips: No new taxes. No tax shifts. No more smoke-and-mirrors.

That message is going to continue ringing in Legislators' ears as they begin review of Rendell's budget this month. Will lawmakers have the courage to stand up to Rendell and start looking out for the best interests of their constituents?

The Commonwealth Foundation is offering an alternative to Rendell's tax, spend and borrow strategy to send Pennsylvania even lower in economic rankings.

"The Pennsylvania Diet Plan: Three Steps to Fiscal and Economic Health" can be reviewed in its entirety at, but it comes down to these sound principles: STEP 1: Limit the Annual Growth in State Government Spending; STEP 2: Empower Voters with the Right to Accept or Reject ANY and ALL Tax Increases; and STEP 3: Reduce Pennsylvania's Tax Burden on Job Creators & Families.

Do yourself and your family a favor and spend time on this Web site gathering information. Then take that information to your state representative and state senator and see where they stand on the issue of taxes and fiscal sanity in this state.

Remind them that you'll be deciding their future in 2008 when all 203 House members and 25 of the 50 Senate members seek re-election.

"Pennsylvania's fiscal and economic health is harmed by overspending in Harrisburg," said Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. "The spending growth in Pennsylvania state government over the years has affirmed the truism that we can grow the government or we can grow our economy, but we can't grow both. Our lack of healthy job, income, and population growth is attributable to poor policy choices in Harrisburg. For the fiscal and economic health of our citizens and our state, it is time we put Pennsylvania on a spending diet."

Finally, somebody gets it.

Bookmark on your computer and help spread the word about this informative Web site. And start lobbying your legislators on taxes and the state budget, which has grown by $6 billion since Ed Rendell became governor. How can anyone justify that kind of spending in a state whose population is not growing (except in age, as more and more retirees are forced to turn over more of their fixed income to the Harrisburg Hogs.)

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