HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford) offered the following response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $48.34 billion state budget proposal outlined before a joint session of the General Assembly today. The plan represents an increase of $3.7 billion, or 8.4%, over the current fiscal year’s spending.
“The first question I ask myself when presented with any legislative proposal, and certainly one as impactful as the annual state budget, is ‘does this set us up for success?’
“The quick answer is ‘no.’
“The governor has peppered his proposal with some feel-good ideas that may sound appealing on the surface, but is it wise to grow state government at a time when people are still dealing with the impacts of inflation? Is it smart to use our ‘savings account’ to pay for what will be recurring expenses in the years to come? Is it responsible to live beyond our means, knowing that we are going to have to raise taxes to keep up?
“Again, the answer is ‘no.’”
Owlett acknowledged the challenge of fully assessing the governor’s budget proposal when it is so lacking in detail. For example, Shapiro proposed a new “higher education blueprint” that would potentially make further changes to the operations of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities, such as Commonwealth University – Mansfield, and the state’s community colleges.
“Aside from combining the funding for these two systems under one line item in the Department of Education’s budget, the governor really didn’t provide any further information,” Owlett said. “Mansfield is among several state universities that very recently completed a consolidation, and we certainly need details as to what this change in the budget looks like. As always, I will advocate for the students, the university and the community.”
Tuesday’s budget address by the governor is just the first step in the state’s annual state budget process. The House Appropriations Committee, on which Owlett serves, will conduct a series of hearings starting the week of Feb. 19 to delve into the details of the budget. A final spending plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year is due by June 30.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler