State bill calls for long-overdue limits on budget increases

For years in this space we have called on governments of all sizes to limit budgeted spending increases to no more than the rate of inflation.

It’s not such an off-the-wall idea, as evidenced by the fact that 30 states have adopted some form of spending limits.

And it’s meant to preclude budget impasses by bringing budget requests closer to what the General Assembly actually would be willing to appropriate.

Given Pennsylvania’s too-routine experience with painful budget impasses in the past decade, anything that reduces that likelihood is a positive.

Well, it looks like spending limits by law may finally have a chance of coming to Pennsylvania.

House Bill 110, known as the Taxpayer Protection Act, would limit annual growth in the state budget to the rate of inflation unless the General Assembly votes to exceed the limit.

State Rep. Garth Everett, a Muncy Republican representing much of our region, said the bill is meant to stop the state’s “addiction to spending other people’s money.”

It’s anyone’s guess whether the majority of the Legislature will agree to its own budget spending limits.

Elected officials over the years have made a lot of political hay by simply asking for money on behalf of pet special interests.

The result is bloated, deficit-ridden government that seldom runs on time in Pennsylvania.

A good first step to ending that damaging routine would be some practical change that limits state government spending.

Such limits would force lawmakers to make decisions that are more practical than political.

The Legislature has a spotty track record when it comes to curbing overspending.

Maybe a law is needed to force some much-needed discipline.

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