Gov. Tom Wolf during his state 2018-2019 budget address Tuesday
HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania state budget hearings are set to start in two weeks, following the Tuesday (Feb. 6, 2018) unveiling by Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf of his $33.2 billion revenue-and-expense plan for 2018-2019. It includes a $1.2 billion increase in spending, including $175 million for basic and other education programs, but no broad-based tax increase.
“The budget relies on money from a new Marcellus Shale tax, and savings in human services programs from increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour, up from the federal minimum of $7.25. It also expects a big expansion of lottery games. Wolf’s administration otherwise expects no deficit next year, despite some independent projections of a gap,” according to the Associated Press.
State legislators from western Montgomery County were quick to weigh in on what they heard.
- Sen. Bob Mensch, whose 24th District includes Pottstown, and West and Upper Pottsgrove, took issue with the governor’s approach to business development.
- Rep. Tom Quigley in the 146th District, covering Pottstown, Lower Pottsgrove, Limerick and Royersford, supported more education funding, but doubted the House would accept the governor’s call for increased spending overall.
- Rep. Michael Corr, whose 150th District includes Upper Providence and Collegeville, said he was hopeful about efforts to improve education and workforce development.
“I am pleased to hear the Governor wants to have a dialogue about job development and economic development in Pennsylvania, but they are doing a lot to deter expansion,” said Mensch, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“One of our biggest issues is Pennsylvania’s business tax structure,” he added. “It discourages new businesses from moving to Pennsylvania, and it also discourages current Pennsylvania businesses from expanding. The administration wants to deny some of the federal tax relief for businesses and we have to push back on that. We, the legislature, need to take the lead on this and ensure that Pennsylvania has the best economic advantages for businesses.”
“While I do not agree with everything that the governor proposed today, I do support continued increases in education funding … By investing in education, we are helping our children and helping to attract new employers: two things that will help keep Pennsylvania competitive in the years to come and keep the state financially viable,” Quigley said.
“At the same time, it is also crucial to make sure that the state budget spends wisely and on our priorities,” he continued. “The governor’s budget calls for overall increased spending at a level that I expect is more than the House budget will present, but it does offer a more reasonable starting number than was presented in previous years. I believe we can educate for success, as well as provide both work and economic opportunities, without broad-based tax increases.”
“I’d like to see a final budget that protects taxpayers while also investing in important areas like education and workforce development,” Corr noted.
“I believe the governor should work with the Legislature to enact a reasonable and responsible severance tax on natural gas so we can ensure large energy companies are paying their fair share of taxes in Pennsylvania,” he added.
Photo from Google Images