Thursday, March 10, 2011

Republican Governor Tom Corbett's Budget Proposal

Much has been said about Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget. This budget should have been called the taxpayer’s budget. This budget is in line with our current economic situation and increases taxpayer rights throughout the state. Of particular note, is placing many tax increases on the ballot letting the taxpayers decide if they are willing to pay more to the government for the services it renders.

The salient point in evaluating this budget should be that Governor Corbett did exactly what he said he would do on the campaign trail. Nothing in this budget should be a surprise to anyone that even passively paid attention during the election. At the end of the day, Governor Corbett kept his promise to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. During the campaign, he promised that his budgets would include no tax increases and no fee increases. His budget holds the line on both.

His budget protects the job growth incentives that Pennsylvania needs to get our economy back on the right track.

The point that many in the media and just about every Democrat that can get in front of a microphone seems to miss is that we, as a commonwealth, are in a recession. When your average family doesn’t have the money to pay for extra things, they have to tighten their belts. This budget forces the government and public sector employees to do the same thing that working families across the Commonwealth have to do.

You will hear commentary about how bad the cuts are. In truth, if we are going to bail this state out of the mess Democrat Governor Ed Rendell left it in, they should have been more significant. All this budget does is reduce spending to about the pre-recession 2008-2009 levels.

The fact is that Democratic Governor Ed Rendell’s legacy for Pennsylvania is a $4,000,000,000 budget gap and an approximately 40% spending increase in state spending over his 8 years at the helm.

Those days are over.

Pennsylvania families and business have all had to cut the fat to keep their head above water. Now, the Commonwealth will do that too.

The budget reduces the cost of government by 2%. On the campaign trail, Corbett promised to reduce it by 10% over four years. 2% is a start but it should have been greater in both the current year cut as well as his projected cut over the next four years. Pennsylvania’s government costs too much.

Now that the Republicans control the State House, steps are finally being taken to reduce the size of the legislature. Our Constitution requires that the process to change the legislature takes several years. It is a ray of hope, but at least a few years away before this can legally be completed.

Continuing on the House Republican initiative above, they should continue to show more leadership on the issue. Republican Speaker Sam Smith should see Governor Corbett’s offer and raise him. The legislature could show better leadership and more concern for the taxpayers by leading on this by example.

The subject that seems to be getting the most interest are those related to education funding. There is a great deal of misinformation on this subject – largely perpetuated by labor unions.

Tom Corbett is an advocate for the quality education of our children. The previous administration put the needs of the public sector union educators and the votes they can deliver above the needs of the children they are charged with educating. Corbett has righted it by placing our children and their parents well ahead of the unions and their members.

Governor Corbett’s plan maintains basic education funding at the 2.8% growth rate even though the Federal Government has stopped funding the program. Again, as is necessary to balance the checkbook, Corbett also returns education funding to pre-recession levels.

To maintain actual funding for education, Corbett has called for a freeze in teacher salaries which will save the taxpayers $400,000,000.

To maintain actual funding for education, Governor Corbett has called for the elimination of education programs that simply do not work and free perks for teachers. Items such as free Masters-level education for teachers through tuition reimbursements and increased wages once they get the degree have been gutted. Its an issue of fairness. These perks are not offered to other taxpayers in the Commonwealth, they should not be available to educators either. Most people actually have to pay for their own education instead of just going to the public trough to have it paid for them. Worse is that after spending taxpayer money for their free education, these teachers actually got taxpayer funded raises because of their taxpayer funded education.

Enough is enough.

To protect taxpayers, Governor Corbett has also called for the taxpayers to be put in charge of tax rates, not school boards. He did this by requiring voter approval for any property tax increase above the rate of inflation. Since our School Districts have not shown leadership on this issue, Corbett will by letting the people decide.

Governor Corbett also proposed that the current tenure system be reformed to prevent automatic tenure for educators. Instead, Governor Corbett has called for educators to have to earn their raises and job protection by being effective in their profession…just like the real world.

This budget is a good start. Ideally, the cuts would have been deeper. The taxpayers should support Governor Corbett for his courage to make the decisions necessary for the success and future of the Commonwealth instead of the success and future of his political career.

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