Feb. 20, 2024

Department of Revenue Secretary Patrick Browne along with Executive Deputy Secretary John Kaschak, Deputy Secretary for Administration Christin Heidingsfelder, Deputy Secretary for Tax Policy Amy Gill, and Drew Svitko, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Lottery, testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on the long-term sustainability of Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal. For the second consecutive year under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, spending is poised to outpace revenue, leading House Republicans to question the fiscal stability of his proposal. Additionally, Republicans recited conversations with their constituents concerning the untimely processing of applications for Property Tax and Rent Rebates last year which resulted in an unnecessary delay of much needed relief for seniors.

Key Takeaways

• House Republicans have consistently stated that Governor Shapiro’s FY 2024-25 budget proposal spends more than it takes in. As confirmed by Sec. Browne,“…the expenditure spend line is exceeding the revenue trend line”.

• If enacted, the Governor’s proposal would result in the evisceration of both the General Fund surplus as well as the Rainy Day Fund, without implementing any measures to address the structural deficit. o As cited by Rep. Schmitt, and confirmed by Sec. Browne, the use of the Rainy Day Fund is statutorily limited to emergencies and significant reductions in projected revenues, not to cover recurring expenses.

• Members, both Democrats and Republicans, shared concerns relating to the Department of Revenue’s customer service, specifically the delays in processing, and ultimately resolution, of tax-related issues.

• When asked about Governor Shapiro and Budget Sec. Uri Monson’s success in implementing zerobased budgeting in Montgomery County, Sec. Browne expressed concerns but shared several programmatic recommendations of the Performance Based Budgeting Board that the department has implemented, noting that the two concepts aren’t mutually-exclusively and was “open to conversations moving forward”.

• After failing to certify an amount that included an estimate for the remaining 6 months of collections (as required by current law) during the prior year, an act that would have resulted in over $1 billion in property tax relief for Pennsylvania homeowners, House Republicans are optimistic that an amount in excess of $1 billion will be certified this coming April 15, 2024, as Sec. Browne stated that their latest estimates show the increased amount should be available at that time in the Property Tax Relief Fund. 

Notable Q & A

Rep. Lou Schmitt questions Sec. Browne on the purpose of the Rainy Day Fund and whether it should be used to cover overspending by State Government. 

Rep. John Lawrence questions Sec. Browne on what improvements will be made to customer relations and the Pennsylvania Lottery targeting ads toward college students.  

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives