Researchers: Opening statute of limitations window could cost Pa. taxpayers up to $32.5B
As efforts to advance a constitutional amendment that would have created a two-year window in Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse survivors floundered in Harrisburg this week, researchers say the economic cost for older cases of abuse being reported could be in the billions.
Researchers from the Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy, a pro-free enterprise think tank, gathered in the Capitol on Tuesday to share the findings of a new report that examines the economic impact of creating a two-year window that would lift the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for survivors of sexual abuse.
Lifting the statute of limitations, the report found, could result in hundreds of thousands — between 10,000 and 100,000 — cases of abuse being filed across the commonwealth with financial claims estimates ranging from $5 billion to more than $32 billion statewide.
The report, which analyzed 20 cases from 2012-2020, was presented by Dr. Charles Greenawalt, senior fellow at the Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy, and Dr. Peter Zaleski, professor of economics at Villanova University.
Greenawalt said that “removing the statute of limitations will have a major impact on taxes in the Commonwealth and greatly affect Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Taxpayers could be responsible to pay for sexual abuse awards of cases that are 50 years old or older. This will come with a significant price tag — anywhere from $5 billion to $32.5 billion — that will greatly burden taxpayers during already tough economic times,” Greenawalt said.
While the center examined the potential economic cost of a two-year window in Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations, Greenawalt said it is not advocating for or against any policies regarding the statute of limitations that are currently before the General Assembly.
“What we aim to do is simply to try our best and develop a range of costs for different policy options, so that our policymakers can review them, if they wish, as they forge our Commonwealth’s public policy,” Greenwalt said.
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