Managing the State Budget
In June/July of 2017 the Republicans attempted to balance a $2 billion dollar budget shortfall in the State’s $32 billion budget with a one-time fix of raiding existing designated fund balances. This was a decidedly unacceptable approach as it:
1. Tried to steal money from funded programs already in progress, robbing those programs of funds necessary to complete their objectives.
2. Would only have been a one year fix, creating an even bigger problem to solve in coming years.
This blatantly irresponsible tactic was so wrong that it resulted in S&P’s downgrading of the State’s credit rating, a move that could cost the State an estimated $53 million annually.
The solution to budgeting problems is two-fold: reduce expenditures and increase revenues.
We must practice real budgetary controls by prioritizing our State expenditures while protecting funding for our public schools, senior programs, medical assistance for the disabled and mental health/drug abuse counseling and treatment.
Pennsylvania spends $263 million annually to run our State Legislature. With 203 State Representatives and 50 State Senators it is twice the size of California’s Legislature. We have the second largest State Legislature in the country (only New Hampshire’s is bigger, but their legislators are only part-time). I would suggest some serious downsizing and budget savings could start here.
We must increase State revenues by identifying new revenue streams such as fracking extraction taxes which could net $300 million annually, taxation of legalized recreational marijuana that could raise an additional $200 million annually and implementation of a “Fair Share Wealth Tax,” a tax on non-wage income such as dividend income and capital gains, that could generate as much as $2 BILLION annually.
In addition to tax revenues generated by legalizing recreational marijuana, we would experience substantial cost savings in our courts, law enforcement and prison systems. We do not need to keep spending money punishing people for a victimless “crime”. As with alcohol and cigarettes, age limits should be set by law and the use of recreational marijuana should be a personal choice for anyone 21 years old and older.
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Friends of Sarah Donnelly
4939 State Route 54
Elysburg, PA 17824