Baker Hopes for Bipartisan Consensus on State Budget
– Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) issued the following statement today after the governor delivered his budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
“I am pleased that the governor had decided to forgo his call for more massive tax increases on working Pennsylvanians this year; however, there are still many parts of his budget proposal that the General Assembly will need to take a closer look at.
“As chairman of the House Health Committee, obviously, I am greatly concerned about the quality of our state’s health care system. With the governor’s proposed merger of the state departments of Health, Aging, Human Services, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, I continue to have an open mind on the cost savings that could come from such a joint venture, but I have many questions as to how exactly the state will save money and how much. We also need to make sure that the services these agencies provide continue to be of the highest quality and are provided in a timely manner with proper oversight.
“One tax increase the governor did touch upon that I oppose was his desire to further tax our natural gas industry. I have concerns about this tactic, given that some companies have already pulled out of Pennsylvania due to the ever-present threat of increased taxes upon these businesses and how those taxes impact landowners. If we are to retain jobs and make the best use of our natural resources, then we need to be competitive with other states and not overtax an industry that already pays state business taxes, as well as impact fees each year.
“As a member of the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, I was especially pleased that the governor would like to dedicate about $453 million next year to help fund the operations of the 14 state-owned universities, an increase of almost $9 million from the current year’s funding level.
“Our state-owned universities, like Mansfield University, deliver an excellent and affordable education to thousands of students each year. These institutions also provide many jobs and contribute greatly to their local economies. In fact, a recent economic impact study estimated that the schools generate $11 in economic activity across the state for every dollar they receive in state funding – that is an annual impact of nearly $7 billion.
“As is the case each year, the governor has presented his plan, and now it is our turn in the Legislature to evaluate his proposal and make adjustments and suggestions to produce the best budget possible that all parties can agree upon.”
Representative Matthew Baker
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman