Gov. Wolfâ€™s Budget Ultimatum: â€˜Give Me Tax Hikesâ€™
Wolf Rejects No-Tax-Increase Budget Solutions, Demands Tax Hikes Instead
July 10, 2017, Harrisburg, Pa.ï¿½"Itâ€™s like dÃ©jÃ vu all over again. Gov. Tom Wolf is replaying his early days in office and again demanding tax hikes on hardworking Pennsylvanians. This weekend, Wolf rejected a no-tax-hike solution to balance the stateâ€™s $2 billion budget shortfallï¿½"instead, demanding higher tax bills for Pennsylvania families.
â€œGovernor Wolfâ€™s singular focus on raising Pennsylvaniansâ€™ tax bills is mind-boggling,â€ commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO for the Commonwealth Foundation. â€œWhen handed a solution to close the budget shortfall while sparing families from higher taxes, he essentially said, â€˜No, give me tax hikes.â€™â€
For two years in a row, lawmakers passed spending plans without the revenue to pay for them. Last year, Wolf let the spending plan become law without his signatureï¿½"even though the state constitution requires a balanced budget and the state Administrative Code mandates that the governor line-item veto any spending above existing revenue. Now, the state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall from last yearâ€™s unbalanced budget, and this yearâ€™s unbalanced plan requires $500 million to balance.
â€œSince Gov. Wolf took office, General Fund spendingï¿½"not counting the shadow budgetï¿½"has ballooned by $2.9 billion, more than the prior eight years combined,â€ continued Benefield. â€œPennsylvanians donâ€™t want more taxes; they want smarter spending.â€
As a result of the stateâ€™s failure to keep spending in line with revenue, Standard & Poorâ€™s recently downgraded Pennsylvaniaâ€™s credit rating outlook to negative.
Last yearâ€™s unbalanced budgetï¿½"which Gov. Wolf illegally allowed to become lawï¿½"didnâ€™t turn out well for Pennsylvanians. Dozens of small businesses were taxed out of existence in an attempt to pay for it, and a budget shortfall was baked in. This year, lawmakers must stand up to Wolfâ€™s demands and close the revenue gap without taking more from Pennsylvanians.
For example, instead of taxing familiesâ€™ cable TV bills to the tune of $240 million, lawmakers should redirect the $250 million that now props up the horse racing industry. Instead of thinking about adding a $200 million drink tax on restaurant and bar patrons, lawmakers should demand liquor privatization which could deliver several hundred million in revenue.
Instead of taxing homeownersâ€™ heating bills this winter, lawmakers should enact human services reforms to control costs, combat poverty, and better serve Pennsylvanians.
Instead of expecting Pennsylvanians to send one more penny to Harrisburg, lawmakers should insist every dollar spent is spent wisely.
The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.