Fiscal Year 2024-25 starts in a similar position to Fiscal Year 2023-24: an unnecessary budget impasse. This budget impasse can largely be attributed to an absentee Governor and House Democrats beginning the budget process late. We can only speculate as to why House Democrats began the process in late June: an inability to govern, using the budget deadline as a bargaining chip for more spending, or what they have demonstrated they do best – political gamesmanship?

What cannot be blamed for this impasse is a lack of budget solutions offered from House Republicans.

In April, House Republican Appropriation Committee members offered the Back to Basics plan. The bills in this legislative package aim to assist state government in performing its basic and essential tasks.

Throughout the 2024 budget hearings, we heard from many agencies failing their basic tasks. Committee members kept notes of every agency’s testimony, budget requests, and the past year’s results under the Shapiro administration. House Republicans have drafted thirteen pieces of legislation and identified two existing bills as action items we can do right now to assist the Shapiro administration in getting state government back to basics.

As the Republican Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I had planned to offer an amendment to implement Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB). However, due to the budget process starting late, I withdrew the amendment. For several sessions, House Republicans have been advocating for the urgent need to implement ZBB; what we lacked was a partner in the executive branch to get it done.

I truly believed this was the year we could actually do it because Governor Shapiro himself implemented ZBB when he was a county commissioner, saying at the time, “I believe zero-based budgeting is the most important thing governments can do.”

ZBB requires agencies to justify their spending from the bottom up — not just increase their prior year’s budget spending by default. This process will help us identify each line item’s constitutional and statutory functions. By moving to ZBB, all programs will be reviewed and examined for effectiveness, necessity, and cost/benefit analysis, ultimately leading to the most effective use of valuable taxpayer dollars and a more transparent budgeting process.

This approach will ensure that every dollar spent is justified and contributes to the overall goals of the agency and state government as a whole. ZBB will also ensure that each agency implements any necessary recommendations from the Performance-Based Budgeting Committee and state and federal audits. This is not a budget solution that seeks to indiscriminately cut all agencies and programs such as sequestration – these are targeted, honest spending reviews.

In fact, as evidenced by the experience in Montgomery County, many agencies and programs will actually see an increase in funding. Any reductions came from wasteful and ineffective programs – we should all favor budgeting like this.

We have everything we need to make this a success: a willing partner in the General Assembly, a governor who has successfully done this in the past, and a budget secretary who has also implemented ZBB in the past.

From the very beginning of this session, House Republicans have acknowledged that we have a budget surplus, currently just over $6.83 billion due to one-time Covid-related federal stimulus dollars, but we also have a growing structural deficit. However, House Republicans are not opposed to spending some of the surplus. In fact, House Republicans voted to fund the Governor’s economic development plan known as PASITES from the surplus. PASITES is an example of one-time costs with positive future returns — exactly what we should spend surplus dollars on.

The current budget impasse confirms what we already know: our budget process is broken.

Fiscal Year 2023-24 authorized $45.02 billion in spending. After tax refunds are removed, total revenue reached $43.59 billion. The result of this is a structural deficit of $1.43 billion. While year-to-date expenditures are only $41.97 billion, the remaining $3.05 billion unspent is available for agencies to spend down in future years, which is why the House Republican Appropriations financial brief tracks prior spending.

We are spending more than we receive in revenues, which was only increased by the Covid pandemic, according to the IFO. House Republicans have and will continue to propose nonpartisan solutions to fix our broken budget process — led by Zero-Based Budgeting. Do the Democrats have the courage to join us and actually govern?

Seth Grove represents Pennsylvania’s 196th Legislative District in York County.  He is the Republican Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and has a master’s degree in Public Financial Management from the University of Kentucky. 

5 thoughts on “Rep. Seth Grove: The broken budget process”

  1. Dear Rep. Seth Grove,
    Initially attempted to read your article, and you lost me in the first paragraph because each sentence contained unnecessary flippancy. Instead, after reading your article by each paragraph in reverse, the reality is you outline the problems in an excellent manner! Respectfully, let me suggest that you should have started this article with your last paragraph. You would catch the attention of more independents and Democrats – especially if you do not use low vibe insults and kept the flippancy to a minimum. Thank you for your hard work on behalf of Pennsylvanians. God Bless you.

  2. “You would catch the attention of more independents and Democrats – especially if you do not use low vibe insults and kept the flippancy to a minimum.” You should do the same in your posts since you refuse to explain what Black and Hispanic jobs are and how the men of South Philly are not men.

    1. “Judah”
      Trump challenged President Biden to a golf match, and gave him 20 strokes, and said if Trump loses, he will give the charity of Biden’s choice (any charity of his choice) $1 million dollars.
      Biden is not the problem – both the godless Democrats and RINOs are the problem.
      If I called you a “colored person” it would be considered rude; but it is currently considered polite if I called you “a person of color” …the idiocy of wokeness.
      It is telling you post the exact same comments – word for word – and are not flagged. You are the poster on a sports radio station that is actually the host.
      Regarding “gender” questions:
      There exists no better way of extending “the sexual revolution” by communists than by shaking confidence in the very idea of man and woman. Many facets of family life have been roiled by the communist effort to separate sex from gender and subsequent efforts to create a world without preconceived roles. All these incongruous (not in harmony) groups, LGBTQIA+, are in fact very opposite from each other yet bunched together. The illogical grouping is intentional. It is all part and parcel to push another “revolution” that eliminates the proprietary family and celebrates non-monogamous sexual experiences.
      Back to the articles main question “Who’s running our government?” if we ask a few more obvious questions, it leads us closer to an answer.
      Why isn’t it bigger news that a presidential candidate is touring the country telling anyone who will listen that his father and uncle were both killed by the US government?

  3. “Trump challenged President Biden to a golf match,” It was a childish gesture on Trump’s part and had no point.

    A “colored person” has a long been part of racism in America and was used to describe Blacks. A person of color is not and cover a wide range of Americans.

    “godless Democrats and RINOs are the problem.” What is the official religion of the United States?

    “Who’s running our government?” Who do you think is running the government?

  4. My take on the article is that it is a piece dealing with government financial philosophy and methodology. I don’t really understand why (unless this is the only available forum) that was hijacked to display word salads of race, sex and “wokeness.” I would like to comment on ZBB, so here goes: Back in the distant 70s, I was involved heavily with Pennsylvania’s Penn State led effort to install state government-wise ZBB. After many years and great ministrations of money, the project as initially conceived was brought forward in an ZBB unrecognized format. In original format, attempts were made to measure inputs, outputs, effort and to assign a dollar budget to each unit of measure under the broad categories. The attempts to monitor and control the budgetary resources underpinning this became a nightmarish effort of frustration. The wonder was the whole of state government did not grind to a halt. I am not familiar with the details of Gov. Shapero’s ZBB efforts, but I would observe that the devil is in the details. I would also point out that starting each fiscal year at zero implies that decisions must be made as to the continuance of the program being evaluated, if it is an on-going program, I believe, based on my past experience, no political decision-maker will have the spine to terminate it (especially when considering who gets the program’s benefits, how many people will be dismissed, what unions will be teed off, how many votes will be lost, etc.) ZBB may be a good thing (don’t look to corporate bureaucracy for guidance), but in my view, until politicians grow a set of fiscal testicles, government finance will remain “tax and spend.”

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