—After listening to his first budget address, Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana), said the $33.8 billion state budget proposal announced by the governor on Tuesday poses some serious problems for the Commonwealth.
“The governor has put a lot of items in this proposal that I would like to see; however, these do not include his proposals to increase my constituents’ tax bills by 16 percent,” said Dush. “Much like a used car salesman using the ‘pull them off the ceiling technique,’ I’m sure the governor believes if we negotiate this unprecedented spending increase down to the 7 percent – 10 percent range, everyone will think he’s the hero.”
“In addition to the $4.7 billion in projected new spending, Gov. Wolf wants to hide the $1.8 billion underfunding of the state teachers’ pension from the general budget process. Although I recognize that there are some items that have funding shortfalls, I’m not about to support any budget proposal that puts the government’s gun to the head of every taxpayer demanding they fork over more of their hard-earned money to the black hole of the Commonwealth’s bureaucracy,” added Dush.
To view Dush’s video comments, click here
All totaled, the governor’s proposed $33.8 billion 2015-16 state budget translates into $4.7 billion in new state spending over last year’s budget. This $4.7 billion spending increase would be generated solely through increased taxation, including a proposed 21 percent Personal Income Tax increase from 3.07 percent to 3.70 percent and a proposed 10 percent increase of the state’s sales tax from 6 percent to 6.6 percent, which will also eliminate nearly all current exemptions except for food, clothing, prescription drugs and some business transactions.
In addition, the governor’s proposed budget includes his previously announced natural gas severance tax on both conventional and non-conventional drilling operations, which Dush will continue to oppose. Wolf also proposed a more than 62 percent tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Dush’s comments came one day after he and 15 other members of the House State Government Committee successfully advanced the Taxpayer Protection Act to the House floor consideration. House Bill 472 would amend Article VIII, Section 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish parameters the Commonwealth must abide by every fiscal year in limiting increases in the total rate of spending. The rate would be determined by combining growth in inflation with increases in state population.
“In short, the state Legislature has a great deal of work to do to prevent what could amount to a $4.7 billion money grab from hard-working Pennsylvania citizens and job creators,” said Dush. “I will, however, remain loyal to the pledge I’ve made to the people of Jefferson and Indiana counties to seek out all sides of these critical economic issues and make the best informed decisions I can. Other than ensuring the lives of my constituents are secure, protecting their livelihoods and the quality of life they enjoy from them are my most important duties as a state lawmaker.”
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Representative Cris Dush
66th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin