Burns calls for lower taxes and roads to be fixed with $828 million state budget surplus
Revenue surplus validates lawmaker’s stand against higher taxes
HARRISBURG, May 22 – As a long-time advocate for state government to spend only what is needed, state Rep. Frank Burns is recommending taxes be lowered and shelved rural road projects be completed, as Pennsylvania revenue is currently running $828 million ahead of projections, with two months remaining in the fiscal year.
"In nine of the last 10 months, the state has brought in more money than anticipated," Burns said. "This proves my continued stance against massive tax hikes was correct. The surplus also creates an opportunity for us to give hardworking taxpayers a much-deserved break from Harrisburg's tendency to reach into taxpayers' pockets for more."
The solution put forth by Burns is a departure from the path suggested by Gov. Tom Wolf, who has recommended that the full amount of any surplus be retained by Harrisburg and deposited into the state's Rainy Day Fund. The problem with that plan, Burns said, is the legislature can raid the fund anytime it needs more money. Burns has proposed giving the surplus back to the people by offsetting the tax on gasoline and putting the rest into property tax relief.
“Gasoline is over $3 a gallon, thanks to Pennsylvania having the highest tax in the country and seniors are being taxed out of their homes,” Burns said “Any surplus should be given back to the people.
“While I agree that planning for future economic downturns is good practice when there is a budget surplus, we also need to give taxpayers a break and address the substantial backlog of road projects, including those in my district,” Burns added. “While PennDOT is claiming it doesn’t have the funds to tackle many of these projects, road safety is a priority and from an economic development perspective, it just makes sense.”
Burns said most people he represents hold the opinion that Harrisburg always finds a way to spend available tax dollars and is relentless in seeking out ways to boost state revenue.
Returning a portion of any surplus via tax reduction, he noted, would prove otherwise and thus restore taxpayers' faith that government officials are looking out for the people of Pennsylvania.
“As a fiscally conservative Democrat, my job is to look out for taxpayers, and I will continue to fight to ensure state dollars are wisely spent. Since the state budget is balanced on the backs of taxpayers, it only seems fair that they be the beneficiaries of a surplus.”
The state Department of Revenue announced that April revenues had exceeded estimates, which pushed General Fund revenue collections through the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, to $828.5 million.