Op-Ed: Republicans Must Once Again Shield Pennsylvanians from Gov. Wolf’s Reckless Spending

For seven years, Republicans have shielded fellow Pennsylvanians from massive tax hikes and overspending by Gov. Tom Wolf. Now, following his final budget proposal, it’s clear we must do so again.

Gov. Wolf’s proposed 2022-23 state budget would increase General Fund spending by $4.5 billion to $45.7 billion. $2 billion of which is federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending, including the expenditure of federal dollars returned to Pennsylvania during the pandemic. The governor’s budget represents a 10.9% increase in spending.

Based on Senate Appropriations Committee budget projections, the governor’s plan will produce a $1.3 billion deficit for the 2023-24 fiscal year. This will create an even bigger bill for Pennsylvania taxpayers long after he leaves office in January 2023, because of inflated revenue estimates and understated spending. The plan creates a $13 billion deficit by 2026-27.

Gov. Wolf says he is not proposing any tax increases, but that is misleading on two fronts: first, the projected deficits will require a tax hike next year and into the foreseeable future; and second the governor continues to unilaterally forge ahead with plans to impose a carbon tax on energy producers. That cost, possibly as much as a 30% increase on goods and energy, will be passed on to consumers, who are already struggling to get by in the face of 40-year high inflation.

The root of the problem is Gov. Wolf wants to spend all the one-time federal money and proposes to use it for recurring expenditures. This is a reckless violation of Fiscal Policy 101. We saw similar disastrous results in 2008, and we cannot allow a recurrence of the same reckless spending.

In 2015, the General Assembly protected taxpayers from Gov. Wolf’s record $4.5 billion tax hike proposal in his first budget, and continuously have stopped Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget and tax increases in every subsequent year. Through the efforts of the General Assembly, fiscal order and accountability have been restored and state finances are to good standing. We have finally erased the structural deficit, but Gov. Wolf’s efforts would recreate a structural deficit and return us to the years of difficult budgets.

Republicans in the General Assembly will continue to shield our citizens from the consequences of the Gov. Wolf’s irresponsible budget proposal.

State Sen. Bob Mensch represents the 24th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Montgomery, Bucks and Berks counties.

CONTACT: Lidia Di Fiore  ldifiore@pasen.gov  (215) 541-2388