You are on page 1of 4

Spring 2010

Keith Gillespie
Your Representative to the State House
Dear Friends:
This certainly has been an interesting winter with
the amount of snow we’ve had to endure. Fortunately,
it won`t be long beIore we`re seeing the frst signs oI
At the state Capitol, it is budget season. Members
of the General Assembly are just beginning to
undertake the task of putting together a spending plan
Ior Fiscal Year 2010-11 amidst the continued diIfcult
economic conditions we are experiencing as a state
and a country.
This will be a challenging task, just as you and
your household face tough spending decisions. As
members of the Legislature, we must lead by example
and continue to be good stewards of your hard-earned
taxpayer dollars.
Governor Ed Rendell has laid out his thoughts
on a spending plan. I want to briefy share with you
some of the highlights of his proposal and offer you
an opportunity to provide feedback on these ideas.
As a state representative, I am charged with serving
my constituents and being your voice in Harrisburg. It
is a responsibility I do not take lightly. Because of that,
we need to have a conversation about the budget. This
newsletter is designed to initiate that discussion.
Keith Gillespie
House Committee Approves
Gillespie Bill Mandating Payment
of Court Costs by Defendants in
Criminal Cases
HARRISBURG – The House Judiciary Committee has
unanimously approved my legislation requiring defendants in criminal
cases to be responsible for payment of all court costs associated with
their prosecution. Conversations with York County Clerk of Courts
Don O’Shell inspired me to author House Bill 2119.
Convicted murderer and death row inmate Mark Spotz fled a
lawsuit against the Commonwealth on the basis of it deducting money
from his inmate account to pay the costs of his 1996 trials, all because
of a lack of a court order. Spotz won that suit, thus setting a precedent
for a number of other prison inmates to inquire about having their
situations re-evaluated. The result has been costly to York County.
O’Shell says requests to date for reimbursement made by inmates
as a result of the Spotz decision have cost York County approximately
The defnition oI court costs includes fnes, restitution, mandatory
fees, subpoenas and transportation. Court costs in the Spotz case vary
with the different trials in different counties, ranging from $10,000 to
The bill, which is being considered by the House Appropriations
Committee, mandates the payment of court costs by defendants,
whether judges address that during sentencing or not.
Budget Breakdown

Last month, Governor Rendell issued his budget address and
defned his proposals Ior a spending plan Ior Fiscal Year 2010-11.
The good news is the governor’s budget proposal relies on no
broad-based tax increases. The 2010-11 total General Fund budget
is $29 billion – an increase of $1.15 billion or 4.1 percent after
accounting for the use of nearly $2.7 billion in Federal stimulus
funds in 2009-10 and nearly $2.8 billion in 2010-11. The major
spending increases in this budget come in basic education, public
welfare, corrections and debt service.
Continued on page 2...
Rendell Proposes New Taxes
While there are no broad-based tax increases in this budget proposal, the plan does call for more than $1 billion in tax
Pennsylvania remains the only state in the nation that does not tax smokeless tobacco and is one of only two states that does
not tax cigars. The governor’s plan includes a tax on both smokeless tobacco and cigars at 30 percent of their wholesale value.
Some estimates have these taxes generating $41.6 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11.
You may have heard of the Marcellus shale natural gas reserve, the geologic formation believed to contain as much as 500
trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In a recent Marcellus shale land lease sale, the Commonwealth received more than twice the
revenue it expected. The governor feels the industry can bear a modest tax — 5 percent of value, plus 4.7 cents per 1,000 cubic
feet of gas produced — without hurting industry growth.
As an avid outdoorsman and member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, I am concerned with the effect
excessive drilling will have on the environment. On the other hand, I have never been a proponent of tax increases, and am
hesitant to go that route in penalizing an industry that could address our energy needs in a time of rising electric rates that will
already be costly to consumers.
This newsletter contains survey questions dealing with both the Marcellus shale and proposed tobacco tax issues. I am
particularly interested in your comments and answers to these questions as I gauge the opinion of the residents of the 47th




The proposal is dependent on two major sources of revenue. It assumes approximately $800 million in Federal welfare
Iunds and more than $92 million in table games revenue. II either fgure falls short of expectation, the budget would be out
of balance.
While we need to balance fscal restraint with thoughtIul planning Ior the Iuture, I am concerned with the idea oI $1.2
billion in new spending at a time when projections have us facing a $525 million shortfall this year.
We are all being Iorced to make diIfcult fnancial decisions in our households. State government did not suIfciently
employ fscal restraint in negotiating our current budget, which is why I voted against the plan. Were the governor’s
proposal placed on the table right now, I would vote in a similar fashion.
Members of the General Assembly are sent to Harrisburg to be effective stewards of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. We
need to rein in spending and not depend further on the people of Pennsylvania.
Continued from page 1...





Sales Tax Reduction and Expansion
Governor Rendell has proposed reducing the state sales tax to 4 percent and eliminating 74 tax exemptions. He says the
concept would result in $531.5 million in revenue raised during the 2010-11 fscal year. Those Iunds will be placed in a new
Stimulus Transition Reserve Fund to help balance Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 budget when federal stimulus funding ends and the
state’s pension obligations begin to increase.
In 2010-11, the federal government is projected to provide Pennsylvania with $2.8 billion in stimulus funding, but only
$500 million of these funds will be available in 2011-12. Unless steps are taken today, the commonwealth will be faced with
the choice of drastic spending cuts or massive tax increases.
The list of 74 items to be taxed does not include food, clothing, prescription medications, health care services and
educational tuition; however, it is the governor’s wish to attach a sales tax to the purchase of items such as accounting and
bookkeeping services, basic television, coal, legal fees, magazines, newspapers, residential electric, residential fuel oil and gas
and residential telephone service.
The entire list of proposed repealed exemptions is available on my Web site,, under Budget News.
While I take issue with many of the items on this list, I stand particularly opposed to those dealing with fuel and utility
costs. Most York countians are preparing to bear the impact of the lifting of electric rate caps at the end of this year. A tax on
residential electric use would place a further burden on hard-working taxpayers and is something I cannot support.
What Property Tax Relief?
The overwhelming topic brought up by the people I meet continues to be property tax relief. The governor addressed this
in his budget proposal by saying Pennsylvania homeowners, on average, will continue to receive nearly $200 in state-funded
property tax relief – with even more savings for older adults who have the most urgent need. This is not enough.
When gambling was legalized in 2004, signifcant property tax relieI was promised. The current budget proposal does
nothing to keep that promise. During the debate about expanded gaming last year, we attempted to have table games revenue
diverted to the Property Tax Relief Fund. The legislation was defeated on a party line vote.
We will make strides toward relieving the burden of property tax relief when we learn to effectively fund our schools. The
York County delegation was instrumental in bringing about the costing-out study, which dealt with the funding formula. We
will continue our push to fne tune that Iormula to account Ior the rate oI growth our region has experienced.
Right now, we are simply blanketing the state with education dollars and not taking into consideration areas such as York
County where substantial growth has taken place. We need to account for the growing areas of the Commonwealth and not
spend haphazardly. The wise use of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars will move closer to more equitable funding of education
and less dependency on property taxes.
I recently welcomed to the state Capitol students from
Wrightsville Elementary School in the Eastern York School
District. If you would like to schedule a tour for your school
or group. please contact mv Harrisburg ofhce at
(717) 705-7167.
Pending Pension Crisis
Pennsylvania is one of many states facing a shortfall in public
sector retirement benefts. Although his recent budget address briefy
touched on pension reform, the governor has taken no action to address
the upcoming rate spike.
Causes of the spike include diminished return on investment in
Fiscal Year 2007-08. A series of decisions by the our Legislature and
governor have delayed the full impact for the last few years, but costs of
less than $1 billion a year now are projected to climb to about $6 billion
annually in the coming three years.
The House Republican Caucus has assigned its Government
Reform Task Force the duty of providing a workable solution to the
pending pension crisis. As this issue continues to progress, additional
roundtable discussions and hearings will be held.
Options to address this issue include increasing the funding of the
system, decrease liabilities of the system or defer the liabilities.
Some pension reform alternatives include:
· Maintaining a defned beneft plan- an employer-sponsored
retirement plan where employee benefts are sorted out
based on a formula using factors such as salary history and
duration of employment.
· 100 percent transition to a defned contribution plan- a retirement
program where members each have an individual
account (or accounts) that accumulate employee contributions
and/or employer contributions and investment return.
• Hybrid Plan- incorporating valuable features of each of the above.

I Need Your Feedback.....

The General Assembly Iaces many challenging issues in our eIIorts to make Pennsylvania a better place to live. I need to know
what you think about these issues. Please take a moment to answer the Iollowing questions. When you are fnished with the survey,
please Iold it and mail it back to my oIfce. You may also answer the survey by visiting my Web site,

1)- Government is attempting to promote the selling oI beer (six-packs) in supermarkets and convenience stores. Do you support
this policy?
Yes No Undecided
2)- Pennsylvania remains the only state in the nation that does not tax smokeless tobacco and is one oI only two states that does not
tax cigars. Would you be in Iavor oI the governor`s plan to tax these products at 30 percent oI their wholesale value?
Yes No Undecided
3)- A casino license could be oIIered to a group oI investors a Iew miles Irom historic Gettysburg National Park in Adams County.
Do you support a reIerendum allowing the citizens oI Adams County to vote on this issue?
Yes No Undecided
4)- The governor is proposing a tax on natural gas extracted Irom the Marcellus shale. Opponents preIer a land leasing deal with
the revenues to be divided among the state, local governments and conservation districts. Which do you preIer?
Extraction tax Leasing oI land
5)- The maior spending increases in the governor`s budget proposal occur in basic education, public welIare, corrections and debt
service. Which oI these areas do you Ieel does 127 deserve an increase in Iunding?
Basic education Public welIare Corrections Debt service
6)- Would you Iavor a proposal that would require Pennsylvania residents to prove their U.S. citizenship beIore collecting state ben-
efts such as Medicaid, welIare and in-state college tuition?
Yes No Undecided

7)- In addition to addressing property tax relieI, which two oI the Iollowing issues do you believe should be the top priorities Ior the
state Legislature?
Bringing iobs & business to the state WelIare reIorm
Controlling the cost oI health care & prescription drugs Improving roads, bridges, & highways
Protecting the environment & preserving open space Holding down the growth oI state spending
8)- Do you have any other comments or legislative questions?

DISTRICT OFFICE: 4188 LincoIn Highway, York, PA 17406
Phone: (717) 840-4711 FAX: (717) 755-2896
HARRISBURG OFFICE: PO Box 202047, 54A East Wing,
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2047
Phone: (717) 705-7167 FAX: (717) 772-9869
E-MaiI: Website:
Shopping for Electricity

Most oI York County will not see an increase in their electric bills due
to the liIting oI rate caps until the end oI this year: however, it is not too
early to start shopping Ior electric rates and possible savings you might
be able to realize.
Please visit my Web site, 5HS*LOOHVSLHFRP, and click on Shopping
Ior Electricity. You will fnd answers to your questions about electric
choice, inIormation on how to shop Ior electricity and a list oI available