KRC & PBPC Media Statement: Gov. Tom Wolf's First Budget Would Get PA Back on the Right Track

Media Contact – Ellen Lyon,
717-255-7156;lyon@pennbpc.org

HARRISBURG, PA (March 3, 2015) — Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center (KRC) issued the following statement on behalf of KRC and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:

“Gov. Tom Wolf’s first budget would get Pennsylvania back on the right track by investing in the future to help our economy grow more rapidly and making progress towards getting the state’s fiscal house in order.

The backdrop for the governor’s budget address is a Pennsylvania in need of a turnaround plan. Since 2011, the state’s cuts-only approach to the budget has left Pennsylvania’s schools going backward, the state 50th in job growth, 46th in revenue growth, and resorting to one-time budget fixes that have led to repeated downgrades of the state’s bond rating.

Gov. Wolf’s proposal focuses on the top priorities of Pennsylvanians – investing in education and jobs. It takes steps toward tax fairness, including making drilling companies pay their fair share and eliminating corporate tax loopholes.

The governor also rightly proposes raising new revenue through the income and sales tax to cut property taxes, as has been proposed recently by Republicans. (Click here for a comparison of recent Republican proposals with the Wolf budget proposal). The property tax relief, which will be greater in lower-income school districts, will encourage growth in older towns and cities, while cutting taxes for families earning under $100,000 and for all homeowners.

While the governor’s proposed business tax cuts to accompany the closing of tax loopholes are deep, the overall goal of tax fairness could be advanced if lawmakers accompanied these with additional changes to make the individual tax system fairer.

Wine and spirits and pensions, thankfully, are not the focus of this budget and won’t distract from the real priorities and concerns of Pennsylvanians. The Wolf administration’s proposals in these two areas are pragmatic and practical -- modernizing the state wine and spirits stores to expand revenue to invest and managing the pension problem in a fiscally responsible way that should reassure rating agencies.”
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