Several recent letters to the editor and comments in “Thunder / Enlightening” by the public and your newspaper’s commentator claimed that we could balance the state budget by reducing the size of the State Legislature. While I agree with the concept of reducing the size of the General Assembly as a way to reduce costs, to claim that the state’s budget problems could be solved simply by reducing the number of legislators is a perfect example of “fuzzy math.”
The state faces a budget deficit of more than $3.2 billion. State spending on the General Assembly totals less than 1 percent of the total General Fund budget. In fact, even if we completely abolished the General Assembly tomorrow and appointed Ed Rendell “King of Pennsylvania,” with no House or no Senate, the revenue we would save would not plug one-tenth of the budget deficit we face this year. This year’s budget represents a real challenge that will affect all Pennsylvanians and it is unfair to minimize the depth of this historic problem.
I have cosponsored legislation to reduce the size of the Legislature in the past, and I support similar proposals that would save taxpayer money in the future. However, I think it is counterproductive to spread misinformation about the cost of the General Assembly. Like many of my friends and neighbors in the community, I am deeply frustrated with the lack of movement on a budget agreement. I am hopeful that we can reach a final compromise that balances the budget without taking more money out of the pockets of hardworking local residents and I will continue to work to identify all areas where we can save taxpayer dollars.
I am introducing legislation that will establish a bipartisan “Cost-Cutting Commission” from the public and private sectors to identify cost-saving measures in our state government. The goal is quite simple: Find savings that will be needed to balance future budgets and avoid tax increases.
All that I ask is throughout this debate, we focus on real facts and not myths.
Senator Dave Argall
Contact: Nick Troutman