Is a $600 million tax increase needed to end a five month-long budget impasse? Lawmakers are considering it. Yet, a shortage of tax revenue is not the source of Pennsylvania’s budget difficulties. According to the Independent Fiscal Office, state revenue collections are at an all-time high. So is government spending.
With revenue and spending at record levels, government spending should first be prioritized in order to avoid raising taxes on working people. The Commonwealth Foundation identified nearly $700 million in corporate welfare spending that could be scaled back or eliminated, with the savings used to plug the nearly $1 billion deficit.
|Corporate Welfare Grant & Loan Programs||2014-15 Budget (Thousands)|
|Agricultural Promotion, Education and Exports||$250|
|Ben Franklin Tech Development Authority Transfer||$14,500|
|Commonwealth Financing Authority Transfer||$77,755|
|Council on the Arts||$898|
|Discovered in PA Developed in PA||$5,000|
|Food Marketing Research||$494|
|Grants to the Arts||$8,590|
|Hardwoods Research and Promotion||$350|
|Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Grants||$19,000|
|Marketing to Attract Business||$2,008|
|Marketing to Attract Tourists||$7,264|
|Municipalities Financial Recovery Revolving Fund Transfer||$4,000|
|New Choices/New Options||$500|
|Open Dairy Show||$177|
|Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance||$11,880|
|Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund||$250,118|
|Transfer to the Nutrient Management Fund||$2,714|
|World Trade PA||$5,824|
|Film Tax Credit||$60,000|
|Job Creation Tax Credit||$10,100|
|Research and Development Tax Credit||$55,000|
|Keystone Opportunity Zone||$87,500|
|Keystone Innovation Zone||$25,000|
|Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax Credit||$10,000|
|Alternative Energy Production Tax Credit||$10,000|
Of the $700 million in corporate welfare, about 36 percent is dedicated to the Race Horse Development Fund, which uses gaming revenues to fund prizes for wealthy horse owners, many of who live out of state. Gaming revenue is also used to fund property tax relief. However, lawmakers are planning to use that revenue ($616 million) to pay for pensions, which raises a question: Why not divert the gaming revenue away from horse racing to pay for property tax relief or pension obligations?
Pennsylvania workers already pay high enough taxes. Whether it's horse racing funds or another form of corporate welfare, government should first cut back where it can before putting greater strain on the budgets of families across the commonwealth.
The current proposal—higher taxes and excessive government spending—represents the policies of the past, policies which have led to poor job growth, personal income growth, and population growth. A new course is needed, and it starts with restraining the growth of government and protecting working people from tax hikes.