Some Pa. Republicans want to tie future lawmakers’ hands to limit spending

As budget negotiations heat up, Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking to change the state's fiscal process in years to come.

Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. on the Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Some GOP lawmakers want to amend the state constitution to keep future legislators from spending too much taxpayer money.

The proposal comes as lawmakers begin serious negotiations on next year’s spending plan.

Pennsylvania’s spending tends to increase year-over-year, sometimes more when the Commonwealth has a surplus, like it does now.

A group of Republicans, led by Washington County Senator Camera Bartolotta, wants to reign that in.

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“Our proposals will reasonably limit future growth in state government spending to inflation, plus population growth,” she said.

Lawmakers would be able to override those limits in an emergency, but it would take a two-thirds vote.

Bartolotta said the initiative is inspired, in part, by a desire to bulk up the Commonwealth’s rainy day fund. Right now, it only holds $23 million.

“That could allow our government to run for — are you sitting down? — a whole six hours,” she said.

If it had been enacted this year, the amendment would allow a spending increase of about $700 million. The surplus is around $800 million.

Opponents, however, say the proposal would be an overreach.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf is against it.

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