For Immediate Release
Wolf’s Crushing $4.6 Billion Tax Increase Largest in Pa History
Middle-Class Families Foot the Bill for Massive Tax-and-Spend Plan
March 3, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Today, Governor Wolf proposed a $4.6 billion tax increase in 2015-16 that would cost a stunning $1,450 per family of four—that isn’t the fresh start middle-class families were looking for.
“It’s a bit of shock that Governor Wolf, who campaigned on rebuilding the middle-class, is targeting families with the largest tax increases in state history,” commented Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “Wolf’s record-breaking $31.6 billion tax-and-spend budget plan certainly is bold, but for Pennsylvania families already facing the tenth-highest tax burden in the nation, it won’t be welcome. From crippled job growth to less disposable income, our state will become a less attractive place to find a job, start a family, or grow a business if Gov. Wolf’s budget is enacted.”
Despite Gov. Wolf’s aim to shield the vulnerable from higher taxes, boosting sales taxes on tobacco products and expanding it to services like doctor visits means the poor and elderly will be paying more, not less in sales tax.
Gov. Wolf made education spending the centerpiece of his campaign and today’s budget address, outlining $1 billion in new school spending this year. But simply throwing more money at public schools and changing who pays will not magically generate better academic results.
“The truth is, Pennsylvania is not underfunding public education,” Brouillette commented. “We already spend nearly $3,000 more per pupil than the national average. And shifting the tax burden to the state will solve nothing in the long run. It does not prevent districts from raising taxes again, as they no doubt will do as pension costs continue to squeeze district budgets.
“The solution to boosting education performance is not spending more, but spending smarter. Weighted student funding, prevailing wage reform, and more school choice are solutions that would better allocate the resources Pennsylvanians are already sacrificing to fund education.”
Run-away spending hurts family finances
Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal amounts to the largest percentage increase in state spending since Gov. Casey in 1991. Brouillette said this highlights the need for the responsible spending limits:
“In 1970, state government spent $8,500 per family of four. Today, that number stands at $22,350—an inflation-adjusted 162 percent increase. Wolf’s plan would only push this even higher. The Taxpayer Protection Act, which passed out of committee in the House this week, is one solution that would prevent such run-away spending increases and protect middle-class families’ finances.”
“If Pennsylvania becomes the next state to tax itself to prosperity, it will also be the first. Like President Obama’s recent budgets, portions of Gov. Wolf’s budget may become law, but as a policy proposal it won’t be taken seriously by the Republican Legislature. Further burdening middle-class families with higher taxes to expand government programs isn’t a new idea, and it won’t raise our self-esteem.”
Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact us at 717-671-1901 to schedule an interview.
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