When Will Gov. Wolf Compromise?

My letter to the editor in the Times Leader today takes Gov. Wolf to task for claiming to compromise, while still insisting on his sales and income tax increases—the largest tax increase in the nation—that received zero votes in the state house.

Bill O'Boyle's July 16 column, “Did we elect a dysfunctional government,” concludes, “it appears the governor is the only participant who has made significant concessions.” Yet he fails to identify any actual concessions – only that the governor’s spokesperson claims he would make them.

In fact, that same spokesman told the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, “Wolf hasn’t moved off his initial positions.” At a separate July 14 press conference, he told reporters, “The governor is sticking to the property tax relief plan articulated in his March budget address.”

The truth is, less than 4 percent of the revenue for that property tax proposal comes from the severance tax, though that is the only tax the Wolf administration wants to talk about. Wolf’s cradle-to-the-grave tax increases – taxing everything from diapers and day care, college textbooks and meal plans, to nursing homes and funerals – would harm poor and middle-class families.

Moreover, that plan calls for twice as much in state tax increases as in property tax relief – a net increase of $1,400 per family of four – while providing no property tax reductions until October 2016.

The state House of Representatives even held a vote on Gov. Tom Wolf’s tax proposal. It received zero votes, even from Democrats. So why is Gov. Wolf continuing to insist on his original budget proposal?

We agree with state Rep. Aaron Kaufer that it is time to come to the negotiating table. But that means Gov. Wolf must drop his demands for unpopular sales and income taxes. And Gov. Wolf must also consider the priorities of legislative Republicans – who were also elected by an overwhelming majority of voters – including liquor privatization and pension reform.