Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rohrer: 'Put Pennsylvania taxpayers first'

While Gov. Ed Rendell is packing for a trip to Florida to watch the Super Bowl, Republican House members held a press conference today to discuss ways to deal with the state's growing fiscal crisis.

The goal of Republican lawmakers is to "combat the state's projected $2.3 billion budget deficit while protecting taxpayers against new or increased state taxes, new state spending or additional state debt," according to a written statement released after the Capitol Rotunda event.

Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer (R-Berks), a longtime critic of Rendell's spending policies, did not attend the press conference, but issued a statement saying he supports the measures and vows to work with fiscally conservative allies "to return financial discipline to the state budget."

From Rohrer:
"After six years of the governor's tax, borrow and spend initiatives, Pennsylvania faces a monumental budget deficit and a lagging economy. It's time to take the state checkbook and credit card out of the governor's hand. He has proven that, without a doubt, he cannot spend money better than the taxpayers of Pennsylvania."
Topping the list of initiatives supported by Rohrer and other fiscally conservative House Republicans is repeal of Rendell's increase in the state Personal Income Tax (PIT).

When Rendell took office in January 2003, the state PIT was 2.8 percent. Later that year, he signed into law a bill that raised the state PIT to 3.07 percent.

"At a time when our economy is struggling, it is more important than ever to allow Pennsylvanians to keep more of what they earn," Rohrer said. "It's hard for families to pay their rent or mortgage, grocery bills, utility bills and other expenses when state government continues to take more and more out of their paychecks."

Other initiatives supported by Rohrer and his fiscally conservative allies would:
* Call for the enactment of a state budget that includes no new taxes, no new spending and no additional borrowing.

* Empower voters by allowing them to approve or reject local tax increases through a ballot referendum.

* Institute state spending limits to control government’s spending appetite.

* Repeal the law that calls for new tolls to be implemented across Interstate 80.

* Reduce welfare spending by 10 percent and use the money to pay for much-needed road and bridge improvement projects across the Commonwealth.

* Eliminate all state discretionary funding or "Walking Around Money (WAMS)."

* Enact a series of business tax reductions.
"We have outlined a plan that would put Pennsylvania taxpayers first," Rohrer said. "In a little more than a week, when the governor delivers his budget address, Pennsylvanians should ask themselves: Who is the governor putting first? Is he doing what's right for taxpayers, or is he looking out for the special interest crowd in Harrisburg and the people who make a living by feeding at the public trough?"

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