HARRISBURG – The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation today that would restrain the growth of government spending by setting state spending limits in the Pennsylvania Constitution, according to the bill’s sponsor Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
Bartolotta’s bill, Senate Bill 70, would limit state spending growth based on inflation and population growth. Since the spending controls would be included in the state Constitution, lawmakers would be prevented from breaching or repealing spending limits with a simple majority vote in the future.
“State government should be held to the same budget constraints facing our constituents and business community. For too long, higher taxes and more borrowing have prevailed over fiscal discipline,” Bartolotta said. “I am thankful that members of the committee agree with the concept of giving taxpayers the final say regarding new taxes and spending.”
The bill would require an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, so lawmakers would have to approve the bill in two consecutive legislative sessions before giving voters the final say via referendum.
Bartolotta noted that Governor Wolf’s budget proposal would spend approximately $4.2 billion above the spending limits set in Senate Bill 70.
“The governor’s unsustainable budget plan is a perfect example of why we need constitutionally mandated spending controls. Rather than spending only the revenues we have available, his budget would require Pennsylvania families to shell out a staggering $12 billion in additional taxes over the next two years,” Bartolotta said. “It is irresponsible for state government to ask the taxpayers for billions upon billions in new taxes and spending.”
The panel also approved Senate Bill 7, legislation sponsored by Senator Mike Folmer (R-48) that would enact spending controls and ensure any excess funds collected by the state would be used to pay down pension obligations, boost budgetary reserves and reduce the Personal Income Tax rate.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 30 states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation. Pennsylvania is in the minority of states having no spending controls in place.
Both taxpayer protection bills were sent to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463