Wolf Doubles Down: Highest Spending Increase in 25 Years

Wolf Doubles Down:
Highest Spending Increase in 25 Years

Slaps Pennsylvanians with $850 per Family of Four Tax Increase

February 9, 2016, Harrisburg, Pa.—Today, Gov. Tom Wolf doubled down on his tax-and-spend agenda, proposing a $3 billion spending increase—a 10 percent bump, the largest in 25 years—requiring broad-based tax increases of $850 per family of four.

“Governor Wolf ignored the public’s fierce resistance to the historic tax increases in his first budget and, today, doubled-down on tax increases on all Pennsylvania families,” commented Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “It’s shocking that after trying—and failing—five times last year to raise taxes, his plan is to try yet again. Uncontrolled spending fueled by ever-higher taxes is already hurting our state: Last year, one person left Pennsylvania every 12.5 minutes to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

“From 1970 to 2014, Pennsylvania ranked a dismal 49th in job growth, 45th in personal income growth, and 48th in population growth. Governor Wolf’s budget plan will only accelerate this race to the bottom.”

Wolf’s budget plan, when including pension payments, calls for $33.3 billion in spending in 2016-2017 and $3.6 billion in new taxes over 18 months, including a new severance tax of 6.5 percent and a retroactive increase in personal income tax to 3.4 percent.

“Wolf talked today about ‘saving’ the taxpayers of Pennsylvania,” Brouillette continued. “Instead, he’s taxing us backwards and forwards.”


In calling for an additional $1.1 billion in public school spending, Wolf repeated the myth that Pennsylvania underfunds its public education system, calling funding “threadbare.”

“The truth is, Pennsylvania already spends $3,400 more per student than the national average,” Brouillette said. “We are 10th-highest in the nation in spending per student. The hard reality is more dollars won’t make more scholars. Despite massive increases in education spending, education achievement has flat-lined for decades. We need fundamental reforms to the public education system, not another tax-dollar Band-Aid to hide the problem.”

(Chart: Pennsylvania Public Revenue & Average SAT Score)

“If Governor Wolf wants to slow the rise in property taxes, improve the state’s credit rating, and ensure more funding reaches the classroom, he must address the public pension problem, not raise taxes on everyone,” Brouillette said. “States with lower taxes and responsible spending enjoy greater economic growth, and that’s better for everyone. Pennsylvanians are crying out, ‘Please, Gov. Wolf, no more taxes.’

“We need to spend smarter—not just more—to win Pennsylvania’s future.”

Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment today. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.