Senator Bob Mensch: Governor Needs to Stop Fighting for Tax and Spend Plan

Harrisburg –  “I want a fight,” Governor Wolf said after he vetoed the emergency funding on September 29th, one day short of 3 months when he vetoed the original budget. In my opinion, there’s been enough fighting. But Gov. Wolf guaranteed he’d have a fight when he proposed the largest tax increase and the steepest increase in spending of any governor in Pennsylvania history.

He got his fight when the Independent Fiscal Office reported that its analysis of the governor’s budget “finds a net tax increase for all groups.” He got his fight when his own data showed that taxpayers in 401 of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts will pay more in sales and personal income taxes than receive in his temporary property tax reductions.  The people of PA have understandably fought back against the governor’s unprecedented 30% tax increase.

When the governor vetoed pension reform legislation addressing the number-one cause of school cutbacks and property tax hikes, he got his fight.  When his “compromises” proved to be lacking in seriousness – “a revised liquor store privatization plan lacking only actual privatization, and a revised pension reform plan lacking only actual reform,” according to one newspaper — the governor prompted yet more fighting.

Was there any doubt he would have a fight when he demanded an increase in sales and income taxes that would result in $4.7 billion in new taxes for residents and businesses?  He had his fight the minute he proposed raising taxes by $12 billion over the next two fiscal years – an additional $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania.

Three months after vetoing a balanced budget that increased education funding without raising taxes, Gov. Tom Wolf has pulled out the veto pen again, this time rejecting stop-gap emergency funding aimed at easing the pain caused by his original veto.

The three-bill package would have provided $11.2 billion in state allocations, releasing more than $3.1 billion presently withheld from schools and restoring funding for critical programs and services. It represented one-third of the state funding as authorized by the budget the governor vetoed in July. This stop-gap budget also allocated the federal money Pennsylvania administers for schools and local governments.

Why would Gov. Wolf continue to withhold funds from schools and rape crisis centers, food pantries and foster families?  Why would Gov. Wolf continue to withhold funds from seniors and veterans; from students and teachers; from people of need who require Medicaid provided services?  Why would this governor withhold $30 BN of Federal funds for schools, transportation and highways, human services and veteran services?  Why?  Why?

Only Gov. Wolf, and a handful in his administration understand the answers to his actions.  From every indication I have though, there is neither taxpayer nor legislative support for the governor’s tax proposals.  It would appear his only course of action is to continue to withhold budget approval so he can inflict as much pain as possible, and thereby hope for a legislative collapse to approve his draconian tax proposals.

Taxpayer comments to my office are running at least 90% opposing the governor’s taxes.  I am one of those 90%ers; and realizing there is such a majority of taxpayers against the governor’s demands, I cannot see any answer to the governor’s actions unless he decides to stop looking for a fight, and instead decide to lead by coming to the table to negotiate with his legislative peers.

 

CONTACT: Sarah Rasmussen srasmussen@pasen.gov   (215) 541-2388