Wheatley calls for realistic action from House Finance Committee
Lawmakers should tie spending bills to state budget
HARRISBURG, April 25 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, said he is becoming increasingly frustrated by the Republican majority’s double standard when it comes to legislation that will have a dramatic effect on Pennsylvania’s budget and financial outlook.
Wheatley, who is Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, said committee members today were forced to vote on a package of tax-related bills introduced by House Republicans that would add $137.5 million to Pennsylvania’s spending, or budget deficit, without offering a way to pay for it.
“The majority party continues to introduce and pass out of the Finance Committee legislation that would increase Pennsylvania’s already massive budget deficit and not offer the way to pay for it,” Wheatley said. “When we give away money to one sector, we are cutting money in our budget.”
Wheatley said while the GOP bills have the laudable goal of leveling the playing field for mom and pop shops and small businesses, the methods used by House Republicans at the committee level are disingenuous and not in the best interest of taxpayers.
“I commend the work and the effort toward helping our small businesses succeed and our economy thrive, for it is a shared goal of House Democrats,” Wheatley said. “I was even pleased to hear the Republican sponsor of this package admit that big business has a more favorable tax environment than small businesses in Pennsylvania, for House Democrats have been working for years to make sure large corporations pay their fair share.
“However, the majority party is being dishonest in its actions. These bills should be brought to the budget negotiating table. Instead, they are being rushed out without the important conversation on how to make up for this nearly $140 million in increased spending with a corresponding revenue generating plan, or what they intend to cut in other programs or services.
“Pennsylvanians deserve to be clear about our choices. Members of the House Finance Committee are the revenue stewards of the commonwealth. When the only bills we pass out of committee are tax credits and tax cuts, without discussing the loss of revenue to the state or the means to pay for it, we are not doing our jobs,” he said.
Wheatley said he would like to see the committee consider all legislation in the context of the state budget and how bills would impact the state’s bottom line and revenue outlook.
“It’s time for this committee to work in earnest and contribute to a responsible budget that works for everyone, that gets us closer to closing the deficit, that properly funds our schools, that helps create good-paying jobs and that provides financial security for working families,” Wheatley said. “A package aimed at increasing spending without the corresponding plan to pay for it is not sound public policy and is a disservice to Pennsylvanians. It’s time for some honesty in our budgetary obligations.”