Feb. 09, 2016

HARRISBURG – Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) expressed both concern and frustration on Tuesday after hearing Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal for a $33.29 billion budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The plan would require about $2.7 billion annually in new taxes, nearly half of which would come from an 11 percent increase in the state’s Personal Income Tax. The tax would increase from a rate of 3.07 percent to 3.4 percent, impacting individuals, families and small employers who are also subject to the tax. The increase would be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.

“Numerous votes in the House over the last year have demonstrated a lack of support for broad-based tax increases like the governor is proposing for the income tax,” Causer said. “Many of the people I represent have told me they can’t afford these taxes, and I don’t believe they should have to. Making the increase retroactive to the beginning of the year just adds insult to injury for taxpayers across the state.

“The governor’s proposal today once again shows how out of touch he is with the people who pay the bills in our Commonwealth,” he added.

In addition to the increased income tax, Wolf is proposing a 6.5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling. Despite the high rate, the low cost of natural gas means it would generate less than $220 million, or about 8 percent of the governor’s total tax plan.

Other tax proposals in Wolf’s plan include an expansion of the state sales tax to cable television services, movie tickets and digital downloads; a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax; a 40 percent tax on other tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, large cigars and e-cigarettes; and a surcharge on insurance premiums.

Causer said the budget proposal represents a spending increase of about 10 percent over the current year. The governor also outlined supplemental funding to several items left incomplete in the 2015-16 budget because of his line-item vetoes in late December. Missing from those supplemental appropriations, and from the 2016-17 proposal, is vital funding for critical access hospitals and several programs supporting Pennsylvania agriculture.

With the governor’s budget proposal now introduced, the House Appropriations Committee will conduct detailed hearings, taking testimony from the various state agencies and department heads starting Monday, Feb. 23, and continuing through early March.

Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
RepCauser.com / Facebook.com/RepCauser