STATEMENT: PA Budget and Policy Center Response to Governor Wolf's Budget Address
HARRISBURG – Following Governor Wolf's budget address, Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, made the following statement:
“For those of us who believe that the government and non-profit sectors have a key role to play in creating communities that thrive and broadly shared prosperity, there is much to like in Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for 2017-2018.
“First, the budget keeps the governor’s commitment to making critical investments in our future. It invests in education at all levels and takes another step toward restoring the cuts of the Corbett years. It invests in human services, especially in the areas of opioid addiction and intellectual disabilities, where funding has not met needs in the past. In addition, Governor Wolf recognizes the importance of raising wages for working people and the middle class by raising the minimum wage substantially and by calling for a Middle Class Task Force.
“Second, the budget proposes important initiatives to restructure government. All Pennsylvanians, especially those of us who believe that public goods make a positive difference in our lives, want a government that spends wisely, that is organized efficiently, and that is responsive to its citizens. The restructuring of government agencies proposed by the Governor will go far in reaching these goals. So will an acceleration in the transition to a new generation of public employees, provided that this process retains both positions, and the state workers with vital skills and experience, necessary to meet the needs of the public. We are reassured that Tom Wolf’s experience in restructuring large organizations, which has led him to put forward these bold proposals, will enable him to carry them out successfully.
“Third, the budget recognizes that new revenues are needed, not only to make new investments but to preserve the programs that are relied on by all of us who live in the commonwealth. We agree that families whose incomes have been stagnant or growing slowly should not be asked to contribute more. We applaud the Governor for seeking new revenues from those who can most afford to pay—natural gas drillers and multi-state and multi-national corporations who for too long have taken advantage of the Delaware loophole to avoid taxation.
“We do have concerns about the proposed budget. The investments called for in education, human services, infrastructure and the environment are not ambitious enough. And the Governor does not call for more far-reaching steps that would to fix our upside down tax system, steps that Pennsylvania will need to take to generate the revenue necessary to fund the public investments we truly need.
“But at this moment, when facing a General Assembly and to some extent a public that is suspicious about the public sector, Governor Wolf’s bold proposals to restructure Pennsylvania’s government can help create the foundation on which to advance these broader goals in the future.”