Rapp Says 2007-08 State Budget Is No Victory for PA Taxpayers

Labeling it as a victory for state taxpayers in name only, Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) today voted against the $27.5 billion, 2007-08 state budget which includes more than $1.3 billion in new spending.  All totaled, this year’s budget represents a 5.3 percent spending increase over last year’s budget.

"First and foremost, I voted against this year’s state budget because it is long past time, for both the governor and the General Assembly to stop mortgaging Pennsylvania’s future through fiscally irresponsible taxation, spending and borrowing," said Rapp, who was counted among 96 House Republicans that on two separate occasions over the last several weeks voted to send a budget to the governor’s desk that successfully limited state government spending to the rate inflation, while adequately funding essential state government programs. 

Unfortunately on both occasions in a straight party-line vote, 100 House Democrats voted to non-concur to provide the governor with additional leverage for his original state government budget proposal.  

"The type of reform Pennsylvania taxpayers really want has little to do with eliminating late night voting sessions as was enacted by the House earlier this year," said Rapp  "It also does not involve drivers throughout the state paying more in highway tolls to make bus fares more affordable for commuters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

"Put simply, the type of reform we all want to see is tangible tax reform which equals more money in our family budgets to spend, save or invest any way we see fit," added Rapp.  "That’s exactly the type of reform that my constituents in Warren, Forest, and McKean counties can count on me to keep fighting for."

Some of the more than $6 billion in new borrowing and other excessive spending contained in or connected to the 2007-08 state budget, rejected by Rapp include:

  • $11.5 billion in total welfare spending--($9.7 billion in general fund public welfare spending and $1.8 billion in special state funds earmarked for the Department of Public Welfare).  Over the last ten years, General Fund Welfare spending has increased by $4.1 Billion.  All totaled welfare spending under the Rendell Administration (through the 2007-08 Budget) accounts for more than 75 percent of that total ($3.1 Billion).
  • $5 billion in approved new borrowing by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, 25 percent higher state turnpike tolls and new tolls on Interstate 80. 
  • $880 million in gambling-dependent revenue over the next 30 years for a new Philadelphia Convention Center.
  • $225 million in gambling-dependent revenue over the next 30 years for a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

In addition, Rapp also rejected this year’s budget because, rather than returning the $650 million surplus to taxpayers or capping state spending at the current rate of inflation, it leaves the door wide open for billions of dollars in additional borrowing through negotiated special voting sessions later this fall.    

According to Rapp, for every $100 million of bonds issued, it will cost future state taxpayers more than $8 million per year for 20 years to repay that debt (assuming a flat interest rate of 5 percent). Through 2007, Pennsylvania already owes $8.5 billion in bonded debt.

"Borrowing against our future is not reform, but a reckless acceleration of business as usual at the State Capitol," said Rapp.  "Through 2007, Pennsylvania already owes $8.5 billion in debt, but if the governor gets his way, debt could increase to more than $11.5 billion.  That means our children and our children’s children will be footing the bill tomorrow for the pet projects the governor and House Democrats refuse to live without today."

Rep. Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(814) 723-5203
(717) 787-1367
Contact:  Ty McCauslin
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9979