Center for Taxes & Fiscal Responsibility
The Center for Taxes & Fiscal Responsibility works to reduce the size, scope, and “tax-take” of state government; restore the government sector to its proper and limited role in our lives; and make government more open, transparent, and accountable to citizens.
Today, the Senate State Government Committee passed a collection of bills aimed at enhancing transparency in government union contract negotiations.
Today, the Senate Finance Committee passed Taxpayer Protection Act legislation to the floor, kicking off a push to protect middle-class Pennsylvanians’ finances from unaffordable spending and tax increases like those recently proposed by Gov. Wolf.
If the proposed sales tax expansion contained in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal becomes law, Louise Bell's nursing home costs will jump by $3,000—essentially adding a 13th month to her annual bill. That’s just one of the many unintended consequences of Wolf’s budget plan which—despite being sold as tax cut for middle-class families—would create few winners and many losers across every income level.
April 14, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Two lawsuits filed in Commonwealth Court last week say Gov. Wolf’s February executive order is an illegal attempt to unionize thousands of Pennsylvania homecare workers. But both the governor and his spokesman have consistently denied it does any such thing. Now, secret ballots sent to homecare workers for a union ambush election show those claims to be deceptive.
Wolf received more than $2.6 million in campaign contributions from six of the government unions with whom he will be negotiating. How does Wolf square these contributions to his campaign while elsewhere touting his ban on gifts from anyone who is "seeking to obtain business from or has financial relations with the commonwealth"?
As part of his 2015-16 budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed using some revenue from increased state taxes for school property tax relief beginning in 2016-17. This policy brief examines more closely the proposed tax shift.
A severance tax must be considered in light of the state’s total tax structure. Pennsylvania taxes the natural gas industry in many ways that don’t exist in other drilling states. For example, there is no corporate income tax or personal income tax in Texas or Wyoming, and the corporate income tax in West Virginia is 6.5%, compared to Pennsylvania’s 9.99% rate.
State law empowers government unions to be the exclusive representative of employees during contract negotiations with an employer. This is known as collective bargaining. Negotiations can have far reaching implications because they set compensation for tens of thousands of public employees, costing Pennsylvania taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Despite the enormous impact on taxpayers, the negotiation process is shrouded in secrecy.
March 17, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Gov. Wolf is negotiating government union contracts worth nearly $3.4 billion behind closed doors. Worse, those same unions were some of his largest campaign donors. This, after the governor himself criticized “back room deals that erode the public’s trust.”
General Fund spending is projected to reach $31.6 billion—the largest spending increase (8.7 percent) in 25 years. Gov. Wolf is proposing to move $1.75 billion in school pension payments to a new fund to make the increase in General Fund spending look smaller. The budget would increase state taxes by $4.5 billion—the largest tax increase in state history. The record tax increases would amount to $356 per person or $1,425 per family of four. Gov. Wolf's claim
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Who are We?
The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.