It’s not rocket science: spending drives calls for tax hikes, and the ability to hike taxes fuels more spending.
That’s why Pennsylvania state lawmakers Ryan Warner and Camera Bartolotta reintroduced the Taxpayer Protection Act, a proposed constitutional amendment to rein in government spending.
HB 71 and SB 286 would limit overall spending increases to the inflation rate, plus population growth. A supermajority of 2/3 could override the limit.
By focusing on the spending side of the ledger, the Taxpayer Protection Act would offer needed relief for Pennsylvanians by limiting government’s demand for their tax dollars.
This pro-taxpayer measure is especially necessary for Pennsylvania. Government spending in Pennsylvania has risen dramatically over the past 50 years. Between 1970 and 2020, state spending more than tripled. But the state’s population only grew 8.3% over the same period.
The Keystone State has even seen its population shrink in recent years, leading Pennsylvania to lose a congressional seat after the 2020 Census. The state and local tax burden costs residents $5,970 per year. While that is more competitive than some of Pennsylvania’s eastern neighbors, taxes are still driving people away.
This trend of leaving the state is especially prevalent amongst people aged 20-35. The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office reported that 47,000 people in this age bracket with at least an associate’s degree left the state in 2015.
Spending restraint is also broadly popular: 73% of Republicans and 65% of independents support limits on government spending, according to Susquehanna Polling & Research. A majority of Democrats also supports the measure.
While spending and deficits have risen over the last several years under Democrat Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania was making good progress on reducing spending. From 2012 to 2017 Pennsylvania’s spending declined relative to state GDP, dropping nearly 20% – by that metric, fifth most in the nation. Republican legislators having control of the state purse strings during that period is largely why.
But lawmakers in Harrisburg are already planning to use $7 billion in surplus revenue to create more programs and new spending. Passing the Taxpayer Protection Act now would go a long way to rekindling recent progress on spending restraint, limiting the ability of future legislatures to waste the public’s money.
Now is the perfect time to pass the Taxpayer Protection Act and restrict their out-of-control spending for good.