HARRISBURG – Sen. David G. Argall (R-29) voted today in favor of a $27.148 billion state budget which should allow the state to begin its budget year on time, for the first time in nine years.
"The Senate passed a balanced budget that does not raise taxes. During these tough economic times, we have all been forced to cut back one way or another," said Argall. "My office, for example, lost three full-time staff members and I did not fill those positions. We have also implemented a salary freeze and eliminated legislative grant programs in the Senate as well. No one is immune to this economy."
Argall compared Pennsylvania's actions to those of other states. "Connecticut passed the largest tax increase in their state's history this year while increasing spending. Eleven other states increased taxes this year. Our local taxpayers simply cannot afford a tax increase."
Argall, who served as Chair for the bipartisan Senate Government Management and Cost Study Commission, was pleased to see some of the proposed cost saving measures implemented in the 2011-2012 budget.
"We spent months listening to small business owners, community members and experts on various issues about ways to save tax dollars and create efficiencies in state government," he said.
Argall explained some of the cuts to the Department of Public Welfare were suggested by the Cost Study Commission.
"The Department of Public Welfare consumes roughly 35% of our state's budget and has seen increases to its own budget every year. The Commission identified ways to streamline the department as well as cut fraud and abuse. I am pleased to see the Senate's budget proposal cuts approximately $55 million from the Department of Public Welfare."
Argall also focused upon the exponential spending occurring with the Department of Corrections.
"Last budget year, our former Governor increased spending with the Department of Corrections by $137 million. Our budget reduces the spending in our state prisons, which reverses the trend of massive growth for the first time in over 30 years," he said.
Argall noted that this is the first year since 2008 without the temporary federal stimulus funds. "The money simply is not there to continue to increase spending. While the Department of Revenue is reporting approximately $500 million in additional revenues in the last few months, a portion of which we were able to utilize to aid our school students, we still face a $4 billion deficit that we must address. Similar to families all across the state that have been forced to cut back, state government has to do the same thing. This budget points our state in the right direction for financial stability."