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Press Release

"Taxpayer Fairness Act" Offers Common-Sense Protection for Pennsylvanians, Nationwide Citizen Group Says

For Immediate Release May 9, 2005

(Harrisburg, PA) - Pennsylvania's budget process could use some "guardrails" to curb out-of-control state spending: that's the message an official with the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union (NTU) delivered at an event today in the Capitol supporting passage of the "Taxpayer Fairness Act" (Senate Bill 4). NTU has 350,000 members nationwide and roughly 20,000 members in Pennsylvania.

"Limiting the growth of government spending is the key to restoring the economic vitality that Keystone State citizens deserve," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul J. Gessing. "The Taxpayer Fairness Act would establish a solid set of boundaries within which responsible budget policy can be made. Senate sponsors Brightbill and Piccola deserve a round of applause from taxpayers, whose hands have been forking over too much of their hard-earned money to the Commonwealth."

Gessing noted that state government spending now exceeds an average of $16,700 for a family of four - which is a shocking $1,800 increase over the past two years alone. Meanwhile, recent tax hikes - including 2003's package that raised personal income, cell phone, and cigarette taxes - have kept Pennsylvania from climbing the economic performance ladder. In an open letter sent to the Legislature last week supporting SB 4, Gessing cited recent official statistics showing that Pennsylvania ranked 38th in the nation in job growth, and 41st in personal income growth.

SB 4 would limit state government spending to the average growth of personal income or inflation plus population for the preceding three years, whichever is less. Surpluses would be deposited in a "rainy day fund," and legislators would need a 2/3 "supermajority" vote to override the limit in non-emergency situations.

NTU's support for SB 4 is part of a stepped-up multi-year effort the group has mounted on behalf of its many members in Pennsylvania. Other NTU projects have included seeking repeal of the cell phone tax increase enacted in 2003, and formation of the United Homeowners Coalition (, which is opposing real estate transfer tax hikes in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Beyond the open letter to the Legislature, NTU has also sent an interactive e-mail alert urging its members to actively back SB 4. Other initiatives could include talk radio tours and further public events around the Commonwealth.

"If Pennsylvania could tax, spend, or borrow its way to prosperity, it would already be there," Gessing concluded. "The Taxpayer Fairness Act is a sensible, sustainable path to a future in which Pennsylvania's government is more accountable to the citizens who pay for it."

NTU is a non-profit citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and more accountability from elected officials at all levels. Ed. Note: Gessing's May 2 open letter to the Pennsylvania Legislature, along with other information on the benefits of tax and spending limitations, can be accessed online at