HARRISBURG – State Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) and Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) today released a comprehensive report from the bicameral Taxpayers’ Caucus, aimed at finding savings and efficiencies in state government. The report details over $3 billion in potential savings to taxpayers—$300 million more than Gov. Wolf proposed in tax hikes for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The Taxpayers’ Caucus is a bicameral working group of legislators that was founded as a result of the 2015-16 budget impasse, with the purpose of finding budget reforms which increase transparency and accountability, maximize government program efficiencies while reducing costs, and opportunities to eliminate or consolidate duplicative government programs.
“This report represents a new beginning for budget discussions in Pennsylvania; it is a change from the governor’s status quo tax-and-spend policies. The taxpayers of Pennsylvania demand that the General Assembly work for them, instead of Governor Wolf’s public sector union partners and hand-picked special interests. Our report has identified $3 billion in potential savings to taxpayers. Governor Wolf wants to raise taxes on the hard-working middle class. In fact, he is seeking $300 million more than we identified in the report.. Harrisburg needs to change the way that it does business, and it needs to focus more on the needs of taxpayers. Our effort does that,” said Grove and Wagner.
No savings to the taxpayers is ever too small, and the report includes recommendations to address the 2016-17 cyclical budget deficit with department specific policy proposals and identifies savings ranging from $43,000 from the Pennsylvania State Police to nearly $1 billion from the Department of Human Services. The policy proposals are derived from recommendations from Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Gov. Tom Wolf and legislators.
“Our recommendations come from a wide array of backgrounds, many of our suggestions have bipartisan support and come directly from the auditor general and governor. The difference however, is when Gov. Wolf touts $150 million in savings from his “GO-TIME” initiative, he is turning that money back into other programs for higher spending. We believe when savings have been identified, they should be savings for the taxpayers and should not be used for further spending elsewhere. It is time for the General Assembly to show budgetary restraint. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we must end Harrisburg’s status quo of asking taxpayers to foot the bill for wasteful spending,” added Grove and Wagner.
The report also takes aim at addressing the Wolf Administration’s lack of spending transparency during the budget impasse. The Wolf administration questionably spent thousands of dollars during the budget impasse, with little or no rationale, including $140,000 spent on a “study of domesticated animals” while funds were being withheld from school districts. Reconciliation of the governor’s budget impasse spending could result in as much as $200 million in savings to taxpayers.
“Short-and long-term budget reforms are necessary to get our state back on track. The House and Senate should move to a two-year budgeting process, which includes priority-based and performance-based budgeting procedures. Legislative oversight is critical to ensure taxpayers are receiving the high quality services which they are paying for,” said Grove and Wagner.