HARRISBURG – In response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first budget address today, Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-49) called for a more responsible approach to solve the financial challenges facing Pennsylvania.
Noting there are components of the governor’s proposal that could garner Senate Republican support, Laughlin said, “He gave a list of non-starters for him and the same could be said for our side of the aisle, and that’s fine, everybody has an opinion.”
“I think some of the areas we can agree on include funding for mental health issues, some of the education funding issues – though I might have a slightly different opinion on how that should be unpacked, but both Republicans and Democrats want to educate their children,” said Laughlin. “There’s certainly room to work in areas such as those.”
Laughlin added that he’s interested in working with the governor to address orphaned and abandoned wells, getting those oil and gas wells plugged faster to help Pennsylvania’s environment
While the governor’s support for Senate Republican priorities such as workforce development, infrastructure advancement, safe communities and mental/behavioral health are appreciated, Laughlin said the plan still boosts state government spending to unsustainable levels.
Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars that backfill federal funding that was cut by the Biden Administration at the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In addition to the many spending proposals that are cause for concern, the budget appears to assume Pennsylvania will remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will burden all Pennsylvanians with an annual tax on electricity of nearly $670 million.
Shapiro’s spending plan would also nearly erase Rainy Day reserves by the end of his first term in office, which would mean the state would face higher borrowing costs and be in a much worse position to weather any potential downturns in the economy.
Although Senate Republicans fought to build up the Rainy Day Fund over the past two years to more than $5 billion, the fund’s reserves still remain below the national average.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin a series of public hearings on Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget plan on March 20.
For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Laughlin’s website at www.senatorlaughlin.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @senatorlaughlin.
Contact: David Kozak 717-787-8927