We’ve all been there. Things are going pretty well financially and then the car breaks down. We suddenly have to come up with an extra $500 to make the repair.
Generally speaking, we have two choices when these unexpected scenarios pop up — charge the expense on a credit card or tap into a savings account to cover the one-time payment. We may also look at cutting unnecessary costs from our monthly budgets, such as weekly restaurant visits or a premium cable bundle, to make room for the added expense.
Most of us would agree it makes better financial sense to cut costs from our budget or use savings to cover the one-time expense than to ask the bank to cover it. After all, that’s what savings are for.
This is similar to the situation Pennsylvania is facing this year with the state budget.
Because we have a millionaire governor who spends more than he takes in and refuses to responsibly manage the money he does have, we are facing a $1.5 billion deficit. While frustrating, last year’s deficit represents a one-time repair we need to make to maintain the state’s economic engine.
There have been disagreements in the House or Senate about how to pay for that repair, as well as the $32 billion state spending plan passed in June.
The Senate wants to pay it off with $600 million in new taxes, which would come in the form of increases to your electric, home heating and telephone bills. The Senate plan also called for more than $1 billion in borrowing that our children and grandchildren would have to repay.
I strongly oppose the Senate’s tax-and-borrow plan, because when money is short, we can’t rack up avoidable and unreasonable debt — especially when “our” money comes from YOUR wallet.
Just last week, the House of Representatives sent back to the Senate a plan that doesn’t raise taxes. Instead, it looked more like a one-time use of the state’s savings accounts. The taxpayer-friendly plan focused on selling unused state assets to pay off last year’s debt and reallocating some surplus funds in the state budget. This is a responsible, commonsense plan that upholds my promise to the hard-working taxpayers of the 10th District to NOT raise taxes, so I voted for it.
As I write, the Senate voted against our plan to use the state’s savings account and NOT raise taxes. Next, the revenue plan will go to a conference committee made up of House and Senate members, in which differences will be worked out and a new plan will be created.
We will find out in the next few weeks the details of that new plan. I will do everything I can in Harrisburg to advocate for a plan that does not rely on more taxes and borrowing to pay off a one-time deficit. We should be cutting costs from our budget or using savings to cover the one-time expenses, not charging more money to the “Bank of the Taxpayers.”
After all, that’s what savings are for.
State Rep. Aaron Bernstine represents the 10th Legislative District in Harrisburg.