Nov 19, 2014

New Opportunity for Spreading the Fiscal Responsibility Message

s1-_howe-colorBy Guest Blogger Susan Howe, CPA

Tom Wolf made history Nov. 4, 2014 by defeating Gov. Tom Corbett. But winning the election may soon seem like the easy part. Now, Governor-elect Wolf must help shoulder responsibility for managing the considerable fiscal pressures facing Pennsylvania and its thousands of municipalities.

For the third time, the PICPA Fiscal Responsibility Task Force is gearing up to put the spotlight on the top fiscal issues facing Pennsylvania as we enter a new legislative session and bring in a new administration.

Also for the third time, the task force’s report will examine the public pension situation in Pennsylvania. Because of the magnitude of the looming deficits in the funding of Pennsylvania’s public pensions at both the state and municipal levels, pensions will be one of only two topics highlighted in this report, which is planned for release in early 2015. Gov. Corbett highlighted these pension shortfalls as one of his top issues; the task force also believes pensions are one of the most critical fiscal challenges facing Pennsylvania.

The second topic to be tackled in the report is taxation. Gov. Corbett famously pledged that he would not raise taxes during his tenure. Governor-elect Wolf, in contrast, has plainly stated that changes in Pennsylvania’s tax regime are fair game in his approach to balancing the state’s fiscal needs.

The task force is cognizant that almost any position on pensions and taxes has winners and losers, and some of our members and clients will be among those gaining or losing as a result of changes. The mission of the task force is to bring a rational, nonpartisan, analytical view and voice to the fiscal challenges facing Pennsylvania. We develop policy options and describe the expected results, much as we would help a client approach and solve a problem. We view the CPAs of Pennsylvania as an important and impartial resource for our legislators and local leaders as they seek to understand and solve the fiscal issues so critical to the economic health of our state.

It’s also intended that the task force report will highlight the need for transparency in the methods used to budget and forecast governmental revenues and expenses. It is imperative that the public (and legislators) understand the future impact of decisions that delay funding or promise future benefits.

You can help by reading the new task force report when it becomes available later this winter and then engaging your state and local leaders in a discussion. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to read the first two reports of the Fiscal Responsibility Task Force, released in 2011 and 2013.

CPAs own a unique space in the discussion of fiscal issues: we understand the fiscal challenges and how to tackle them better than any other group of people. We enjoy a level of respect unmatched by almost any other professional group. Our five CPA legislators also appreciate the support they receive from our members. Please add your voice to the discussion; advocacy is a great way to use our considerable skills to serve the public interest.

Susan Howe
is a CPA with over two decades of public tax and industry experience. She currently chairs the PICPA Fiscal Responsibility Task Force and Legislation Committee, serves as a member on the Image Enhancement Committee and CPA-PAC, and is a past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

Leave a comment

Give CPAs a Voice in Harrisburg

CPA-PAC is the only political action committee to specifically represent the interests of Pennsylvania CPAs.

Invest in the CPA-PAC 
Subscribe to Legislative Update

Get the latest news on Pennsylvania government, issues affecting CPAs, and the PICPA's advocacy work. This weekly newsletter is for PICPA members only.

Subscribe Now

PICPA Staff Contributors
Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.
Follow @PICPA_GR