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.
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
Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a budget with a spending rate clocking in at a blistering $1,000 per second. That means in the time it takes you to read this article, say three minutes, state government would spend a stunning $180,000. And the governor is looking at you to pay for it with a $4.5 billion tax increase—the largest in state history.
March 9, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Imagine a mom walking up to the grocery store check-out counter and finding $1,400 less in her bank account. What everyday necessities would her family have to sacrifice to make ends meet?
March 3, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Today, Governor Wolf proposed a $4.6 billion tax increase in 2015-16 that would cost the average Pennsylvania family of four a stunning $1,450 a year—that isn’t the fresh start middle-class families were looking for.
February 23, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Gasoline taxes, severance taxes, personal income taxes, property taxes, cigarette taxes—no matter the decade, governor, or party in power, a proposal to raise a new tax to cover government spending is always just around the corner. As a result, since 1970, state government spending has risen nearly $14,000 per family of four, leaving residents facing the tenth-highest tax burden in the country to pay for it all.
Pennsylvania ranks among the nation’s leaders in education spending per student. Although spending levels are high, the system for distributing state funding is outdated. Weighted student funding (WSF) is a method for distributing education dollars that promotes fairness and transparency.
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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.