The state’s Independent Fiscal Office recently released an analysis of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget that showed a “net tax increase for all (income) groups.” The close examination of the governor’s plan for Pennsylvania just reaffirmed what I’ve been saying all along — under the Wolf budget everybody pays more.
Despite “property tax and relief, the low-income group realizes increases in tobacco and sales taxes, and modest increases in personal income and severance tax through higher utility prices,” the independent office recently wrote in its analysis of the revenue proposals for Wolf’s proposed budget plan.
The IFO does not take positions on the topics it analyzes and, unlike the governor, it discloses all methodologies, data sources and assumptions used in reaching its conclusions. And for the governor, whose staff has attacked the independent office for its report, it seems the truth hurts.
Calling the IFO numbers “unsophisticated” and the work “shaky,” the Wolf administration chose to attack the source rather than produce their own numbers and methodology to defend their significant tax increase.
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There have been times when the independent office has issued a report unfavorable of budgetary positions I have taken. However, I did not defend my position by attacking the work of good people and the integrity of an office which, by design, provides “impartial and timely” analysis of fiscal issues facing the state.
The governor is campaigning around the state talking about what he wants to spend the money on. But if you notice, he never talks about where he is getting the money. That’s because the money is coming from you in the form of significantly higher taxes.
The report clearly illustrates the governor’s tax proposal significantly increases sales, tobacco and energy taxes to the point where the increases outstrip tax savings attributable to property tax relief. For example, in the $25,000 or less income bracket, aggregate increases associated with tobacco, sales and energy taxes total about $537 million. Property tax relief for homeowners and renters in this income tax bracket are estimated at $274 million and $202 million respectively. The analysis is similar across all income brackets.
My neighbors struggle to pay for child care, car maintenance, health benefits and their mortgage. But the governor wants them to pay more to Harrisburg without addressing the problems here. How much is too much? Many families are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot simply just raise their revenues because the governor wants to spend more.
Substantially higher income taxes, a massive energy tax and increased spending is not going to help families or grow our economy. It will only grow the government. I can’t ask my community — my neighbors and their families — to send billions more to Harrisburg because the governor wants more money.
While Gov. Wolf is engrossed on increased spending and taxing even more, I remain focused on tangible initiatives to help Pennsylvanians such as restructuring the pension system and improving our business environment.
I support working to continue to control the cost of state government so that taxpayers keep more of their money in their pockets. It means restructuring government so that it is more efficient and more responsive to the needs of everyday Pennsylvanians.
In the coming weeks, the Senate will be restructuring the state pension system that is driving property taxes through the roof. We want to innovate in public education so that we’re able to provide a quality education to the next generation without breaking the backs of homeowners. We want to eliminate burdensome regulations that are driving employers out of our state and costing us good-paying jobs.
We can’t simply spend our way out of this. We cannot raise taxes while options for prudent restructuring of the state’s programs remain.
During the last several months, you have heard details about two very different visions for Pennsylvania’s future. Gov. Wolf’s vision will break Pennsylvania’s budget, drive jobs out of the state, and cost taxpayers billions in additional taxes with little or no additional value. The Senate’s vision will revitalize Pennsylvania’s economy, reign in the out of control growth of government, and provide real relief to Pennsylvanians.