Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Senatorial District and the State Capitol. If you haven't done so already, please take a moment to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about my legislative priorities issues that may affect you and your family.
Week of March 4, 2019
Department of State Budget Hearing
While I am not a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I participated as chair of the Senate State Government Committee, which has oversight of the Department of State (DOS), as part of its budget hearing. Watch below to see Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s responses to my following questions:
2016 Election Lawsuit
“Robust Pre-Certification Audit”
Department of General Services Budget Hearing
Also as chair of the Senate State Government Committee, which has oversight over the Department of General Services (DGS), I participated in their Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing. Watch below to see Secretary of General Services Curt Topper’s responses to my following questions:
DGS Proposed Budget Program Measures
DGS’s role in Medical Cannabis Permit Selection
Real Estate Modernization
Column: Sound Familiar?
Which Governor of Pennsylvania addressed the General Assembly with the opening: “this is a historic day”? This Governor went on to add: “for you are receiving the most innovative, long-range financial plan ever presented to a legislative body in the United States.”
“In no other budget, will you find the new approaches we are taking to solve the fiscal crisis of our Commonwealth – a crisis that is faced by every other state and local government across this Nation.”
Labeling his budget as “truth in spending,” the Governor promised: “no longer will we look at programs and their cost from year-to-year, avoiding the realities of the future.”
“This is without a doubt a major step in the ‘truth-in-spending’ plan we began last year for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania – a plan that requires that we show the people the future price tag of programs that are undertaken, together with the necessary revenues to pay for them.
“This financial plan will put an end to unplanned and uncontrolled spending. Now we will have a better comprehension of where we are headed in the financial woods of government.
“We hear citizens complain that they need better highways; better schools, colleges, universities and more financial assistance for their children; better mental hospitals and programs for those of their family afflicted by mental illness; better nursing homes for their aged parents; more welfare assistance for their children; more money for cleaning up the streams for purer water and better fishing; increased assistance to their local governments for better housing, recreation and transportation; expanded industrial development programs to give them better jobs.
“At the same time, when the subject of providing the tax revenues to pay the bill is discussed, these same citizens complain that the price is too high – ‘cut other appropriations but leave mine alone,’ they say.
“We are told that the education systems of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other cities cannot survive without huge new injections of State assistance.
“This is no small problem, ladies and gentlemen of the General Assembly. For many of those who advocate spending more, all too often, fail to support the measures that raise the money to pay the price.”
This same Governor went on to note that the major drivers of the Commonwealth’s budget at that time were education (56%) and health and welfare (23%). The remaining 21% of the state budget went to all other programs and services, including moneys for colleges, hospitals, and pensions and benefit costs for state employees.
That Governor went on to tout the cost reduction and efficiency efforts of his Administration: “we have made some great strides.” Computerization, consolidation of services, and merger of departments and agencies were specific examples he cited.
He then outlined the options to pass a balanced state budget: “cut back, stand pat, or go forward.” The Governor opted for the latter, calling for new revenues. However, while he provided a list of existing Pennsylvania taxes, he made no specific recommendation for which one(s) to increase, and pledged: “I stand ready to work and cooperate with you.” He hoped work on the budget would begin “with dispatch so that we can arrive at an agreement before the end of the fiscal year.”
Other than the budget figures, it appears the rhetoric never changes. The Governor of that era proposed a $1,421,398,000 state budget – an increase of $296,977,000 over the previous year (over 26%). However, the Commonwealth needed $492,593,000 in new revenues to pass a balanced budget that year.
Who was the Governor quoted? Answer: Raymond P. Shafer, January 28, 1969.
48th Spotlight Video Feature: Mount Gretna Theatre
My first 48th Spotlight of 2019 features the Mount Gretna Theatre! I spoke with Brian Kurtas, Executive Producer, at the beautiful and historic Mount Gretna Playhouse. We also visited Movement Laboratory in Lebanon, about taking the arts into schools through touring outreach. Watch below!
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