Fix the State Budget Process Now

Press Center

For Immediate Release


August 5, 2009

Barry Kauffman, 717-232-9951

Fix the State Budget Process Now

This “is a crisis that is causing real harm to Pennsylvania – to its people, its businesses, and to government itself – and it doesn’t have to be this way” said Barry Kauffman, Executive Director of Common Cause/PA. He then called on legislators to fix the budget development process which is playing a major role in the stalemate. “While you’re sitting around for weeks on end, waiting for your leaders to end their stare-down on the budget, why don’t YOU fix the system so that these budget fiascos are unlikely to ever happen again”

During a capitol press conference today, Common Cause/PA reissued a budgeting reform proposal, first offered after the 1991 budget standoff. Kauffman noted, “there are better ways of designing and passing fair, effective and timely state budgets” and indicated that if the Common Cause proposal had been enacted, the current stalemate probably would not be happening.

Key components of the Common Cause budgeting reform proposal include:

. A disciplined structure with a series of deadlines for acting on each essential phase of the budget process;

. Penalties for missing the deadlines:

. Continuing the prior year’s budget if the June 30 enactment deadline is not met, with the exception of suspending grants; and

. Forfeiture of legislative and senior executive branch salaries, plus suspension of per diems, from July 1 until budget passage.

It is Common Cause/PA’s position that this disciplined process keeps the budget enactment on track, protects the public from irresponsible public officials by continuing government operations and services, creates incentives to ensure annual review of programs and revenues, and places the burden of failure to pass a timely budget on the responsible public officials.

Common Cause urged lawmakers to enact these reforms now, while impacts of the crisis are still poignant.

Kauffman also called on lawmakers to pass the Levdansky campaign contribution limits bill because lawmakers often feel a need to protect the interests of large campaign contributors in the budget process, which places unnecessary burdens on budget negotiations.