– Today, the Lancaster County House Republican Delegation listened to Gov. Tom Wolf present his proposed $33.8 billion budget to a joint session of the General Assembly.
The spending plan increases state borrowing by at least $3.7 billion and spending by $4.7 billion primarily by raising taxes on small businesses and the middle class.
In particular, the governor wants to increase the sales tax by 10 percent and expand its reach to cover items like diapers, day care services, doctor visits and students’ textbooks. He also proposed raising the personal income tax by 21 percent. For a family in Pennsylvania earning the median income of $52,548, that would mean an additional $331.05 in income taxes.
The Lancaster County Republican Delegation – State Reps. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom), Dave Zimmerman (R-East Earl), Mindy Fee (R-Manheim), Keith J. Greiner (R-Upper Leacock), Dave Hickernell (R-West Donegal), Brett Miller (R-East Hempfield) and Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz) - issued the following statements on Wolf’s budget proposal:
“It is encouraging that we have a governor with business experience who understands that job creation means bringing Pennsylvania’s corporate tax rate in line with that of other states,” Cutler said. “The Commonwealth’s corporate income tax is the second highest in the nation and I look forward to working with the governor on reducing our outdated CNI and getting people back to work.
“As a CPA, I really feel we need to be cognizant of expenditures and controlling costs in order to achieve a sustainable budget solution,” Greiner said. “The governor’s proposal would increase Harrisburg spending by 16 percent. Our focus should instead be on delivering a controlled and sensible budget that protects taxpayers. I look forward to reviewing his proposals as a member of the Appropriations Committee.”
“Gov. Wolf’s proposal would hike the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent That means that Pennsylvania families – and small business owners – would see a 21% increase in their personal income tax bills,” Fee said. I was glad to see some of his business tax proposals, specifically the reduction to the corporate net income tax. But the bulk of business owners in my district and across Lancaster County pay personal income tax with their businesses. Fully 79 percent of Pennsylvania businesses would shoulder this new burden, and they can’t handle that kind of tax hike and stay profitable enough to pay employees.”
“I am pleased that the governor discussed several issues, such as reducing property taxes and cutting or phasing out onerous business taxes, that would provide much needed relief for Pennsylvania’s property owners and businesses,” Mentzer said. “At the same time, his proposal would raise personal income taxes by 21 percent and sales taxes by 10 percent to fund unsustainable increases in state spending. I am committed to working toward a fiscally responsible budget that provides much needed relief to taxpayers and controls unnecessary costs.”
“I was glad to hear Gov. Wolf’s recognition that we need to work on reducing property taxes,” Miller said. “However, one thing that I heard over and over again as I was knocking on doors before the election is that property tax reform has to be that for every dollar out of the local taxpayer’s pocket, that dollar needs to go to the local school district, not Harrisburg. There also needs to be a corresponding dollar-for-dollar decrease in the homeowner’s property tax bill. That’s not what the governor has proposed today. We need real property tax reform, not a scheme that sends dollars to Harrisburg for a few pennies back in school property tax relief.
Hickernell echoed Miller’s remarks on property taxes, and cautioned that Gov. Ed Rendell sold his casino plan on tax relief that never materialized as it was sold. He said it was also puzzling to hear a tax relief plan mentioned in the same address as the biggest spending increase in state history.
“We gambled on a governor’s tax reform plan before and we got burned,” Hickernell said. I also look forward to hearing from my constituents whether they are looking forward to paying nearly $5 billion in new taxes.”
Zimmerman was heartened to hear Wolf finally talk about the pension problem, but his plan to take on huge new bond issues to get out of the red is just like trying to borrow one’s way out of debt.
“It was good to hear Gov. Wolf finally say that Pennsylvania has a serious public pension problem and it needs to be addressed, and I am willing to work with him to do that,” Zimmerman said. “But taking public pensions out of the budget and hiding them in separate account is a smoke-and-mirrors approach that isn’t being honest with the taxpayers who have to pay the bill regardless.”
Lancaster County House Republican Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Charles Lardner