– Citing the high amount of spending in Gov. Tom Wolf’s first budget proposal to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) questioned the impact of a $33.8 billion plan on the taxpayers and small businesses along the Northern Tier.
The budget proposal, which accounts for a 16 percent increase over the current fiscal year, is balanced using a series of tax hikes – most of which are targeted at working families and smaller businesses.
“I can appreciate Governor Wolf wanting to propose an ambition agenda for his first year in office and there are many worthy priorities deserving of more funding, but I am concerned that the price tag for the hard-working families of this state and our district is too high,” Pickett said. “The tax increases included in this plan – both in terms of incomes and sales – are far beyond what our hard-working families can afford. Add in his proposed severance tax on natural gas drilling, and this budget clearly seeks to jeopardize any economic gains we’ve made in the past few years.”
The 2015-16 spending plan is balanced using $4.7 billion in tax increases, namely a 21 percent increase in the Personal Income Tax, which could cost a household earning $52,000 a year another $330; a 10 percent increase in the sales tax, which would be broadened to include such items as baby diapers, day care and textbooks; a $1 per pack increase on a pack of cigarettes; a new tax on smokeless tobacco; and a 7.5 percent tax on the extraction of natural gas.
Where the budget proposes some larger tax cuts for bigger businesses to help job creators, Pickett believes more scrutiny is needed on the impact of small businesses, which would be hit hard by increases in sales and income taxes.
“Today’s address begins the annual budget process, which includes three weeks of hearings and multiple discussions among our membership and the Governor’s Office,” Pickett said. “Our work over the next few months will be challenging at best, but I firmly believe we can come to a fiscally responsible agreement on how best to fund our priorities while being mindful of the taxpayers.”
More information about the budget can be found online at www.PAHouseGOP.com
Representative Tina Pickett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton