During a visit to the offices of The Daily Press on Tuesday, Brockway native and state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said he will continue to focus on his longtime priorities of bringing down state budget costs and lowering taxes for Pennsylvania residents.
"I think that the biggest challenge is to balance a budget with a $4 billion deficit. Constitutionally, we (Pa.) are required to have a balanced budget," Scarnati said.
He attributed some of the deficit to rising costs, reduced federal funding and lost revenue, but said he believed overspending under the eight-year tenure of former Gov. Edward G. Rendell is one of the biggest factors that has led to the budget shortfall.
"We're losing money, and our costs have been going up. We need to rein it in," he said.
He said he feels newly elected Gov. Tom Corbett, formerly the state's Attorney General, will be able to do that and still keep his campaign promise of not raising taxes to balance the budget.
"We have a new governor in Harrisburg who said he's not going to raise taxes, and I totally agree with him," Scarnati said.
Gov. Corbett is scheduled to give his budget address to the General Assembly on March 8. Scarnati said he believes the address will demonstrate Corbett's willingness to put actions to words. He warned, however, that there was no doubt that budget cuts to various programs would have to be made, as Gov. Corbett has already stated.
"This governor's going to give us straight talk, and he's going to be making cuts," Scarnati said.
"I think as long as we have fair cuts everywhere, I think it will be okay, but I encourage the governor to be fair in his cuts."