Pennsylvania’s official fiscal watchdog this week told state senators that the commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund contains less money than many experts recommend — and that’s before Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro’s long-term fiscal plan burns through it.
The state Treasury currently keeps $5.7 billion in the Rainy Day Fund to help public institutions endure revenue losses resulting from economic downturns. According the the department’s own calculations, current reserves in this account could sustain General Fund expenditures for just under 43 days.
Unlike his fellow Democrat and predecessor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro hasn’t asked for tax increases as part of his first budget request. But the ranking Republican on the state House Appropriations Committee said on Wednesday that tax hikes likely await Pennsylvanians in a few years if lawmakers don’t pare back Shapiro’s spending proposal.
“We are facing massive structural deficits,” Representative Seth Grove (R-York) told reporters at the GOP Appropriations Committee Office in Harrisburg. “It’s something that is on our minds here in the General Assembly.”
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) is already claiming high-ranking Republicans “are praising” his first budget. Those Republicans’ actual remarks tell a different story.
A press release from the governor selectively quotes eight GOP state lawmakers’ reactions to the budget he unveiled last week. While the snippets accurately capture areas of agreement, they leave out decidedly negative sentiments the Republicans voiced about the $45.9 billion plan which would hike state spending by about four percent over the current level.
Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro asked the state General Assembly members on Tuesday to support his requested $45.9 billion budget, which would increase spending by approximately 4 percent over current outlays.
The governor insisted he based his plan for Fiscal Year 2023-24 on “conservative” revenue estimates. And he did include some provisions appealing to anti-taxers and free-marketers including nixing the state cell-phone tax, a move he estimates would save Pennsylvanians $124 million annually.