Every year, Pennsylvanians witness chaos in Harrisburg as everyone fights over the budget. Today, we have a billion-dollar deficit and are no closer to solving the problem of how to balance our budget while meeting the needs of all our residents. Following through on a campaign promise, on Helen's first day in office, she introduced HB2469 "No Budget, No Pay" - i.e., if the legislature doesn't pass a balanced budget on time, they don't get paid.
Helen has spent much of her life helping individuals and organizations become more effective and efficient and believes there is always room for improving how our tax dollars are spent. But she is also a realist and knows that spending cuts and efficiencies alone are not the answer to our budget mess. To fix our fiscal problems, we must also look to increasing revenue.
If we don’t invest in our future, it will not be as bright. Until now, we have failed to make the investments in infrastructure and education that are needed to attract new businesses, ensure our young people have the skills to get the jobs of the future, and keep our economy growing - - a growing economy is key to increasing revenue.
There is also a large source of untapped money that Pennsylvania leaves on the table every year - - revenue from the gas that is being extracted from our land. The state’s Fiscal Office estimates that Pennsylvania’s effective tax rate on gas is lower than all but one other gas-producing state. As a result, we are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a severance tax could raise enough revenue to cover 20% or more of our budget shortfall. One of Helen’s top priorities will be to help form a coalition from both parties to pass a gas extraction tax.