Franklin Co. legislators say balancing budget is main focus

Lawmakers will likely look at privatization of services like the Pennsylvania Turnpike and liquor stores

December 21, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Pa. Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland
Pa. Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Developing a balanced budget for fiscal 2012 by the end of this fiscal year will be the main focus of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in coming months, according to Franklin County legislators.

"That is by far the biggest priority at this point. With the $5 billion deficit at this time, that's not easy," said state Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin.

The legislature will now be working with a Republican governor, Tom Corbett. It will try to prove "even though it's difficult, we can get it done and get it done on time," Rock said of the budget.

"We're going to have to cut budgets and cut services. That's going to be a challenge for everyone," said state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, said budget work will come after "restructuring, reform and overhaul of government."

"The No. 1 thing we'll be doing when we get back is trying to get our arms around the fiscal challenges," Kauffman said.

He predicted lawmakers will look at privatization of services like the Pennsylvania Turnpike and liquor stores. He said they'll try to streamline departments and get rid of unnecessary bureaucracies.

"Once that is accomplished, hopefully we'll have an on-time or early budget," he said.

Republican leaders said they want a budget finalized in May, rather than closer to the June 30 deadline, Rock said.

The fiscal 2011 budget was passed on time after several years of missed deadlines, including 2009, when the budget was 100 days late.

Rock said he expects issues like prevailing wage reform and school choice will be addressed in September or later.

"We really can't look at those until we get the budget passed," he said.

Alloway said he wants to change the inheritance tax and enact the Castle doctrine, which allows residents to use deadly force when confronted in their home.

"I will be reintroducing a bill to do away with Pennsylvania's inheritance tax," Alloway said, calling it "the most unfair tax a government could levy on its people."

That tax punishes people who saved their whole lives, Alloway said.

The government also needs to assist businesses in increasing and creating jobs to jump-start the economy, he said of 2011 priorities.

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