Breaking Promises to Fund Broken Programs

During his gubernatorial campaign, Tom Wolf promised to reduce taxes on working people. As a matter of fact, his campaign attacked Gov. Corbett for raising taxes. An October 2014 campaign blog post claimed, “Unlike Governor Corbett, Tom Wolf will fight to reduce taxes on working, middle-class families.”

Now, Gov. Wolf is pursuing the same policies his campaign denounced fewer than two years ago. Since taking office, the governor has proposed raising taxes on low- and middle-income people six times. His latest proposal includes a tax hike of about $850 per family of four.

Gov. Wolf claims tax increases are necessary to fix Pennsylvania’s $2 billion budget deficit. This is false for two reasons. First, Secretary of Revenue Randy Albright admitted the tax hikes will not erase the deficit. Second, reasonable alternatives exist to fix the fiscal follies of the past few decades. We don’t need to balance the state’s budget on the backs of taxpayers.

Beyond higher taxes, the governor wants to increase spending by 10 percent—the largest one-year growth in 25 years. This includes more than $742 million in corporate welfare—a $58 million increase above current spending levels.

Table 1. Corporate Welfare Programs in Operating Budget (in thousands) 

2015-16 Budget (projected)

2016-17 Budget (projected)

Spending Programs

Agricultural Excellence



Agricultural Research



Agricultural Promotion, Education and Exports



Ben Franklin Tech Development Authority Transfer



Commonwealth Financing Authority Transfer



Council on the Arts



Food Marketing Research



Grants to the Arts



Hardwoods Research and Promotion



Industry Partnerships



Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Grants



Keystone Communities



Livestock Show



Marketing to Attract Business



Marketing to Attract Tourists



Municipalities Financial Recovery Revolving Fund Transfer



New Choices/New Options



Open Dairy Show



Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance



Pennsylvania First



Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund



Tourism-Accredited Zoos



Transfer to the Nutrient Management Fund



Office of International Business Development (World Trade PA)



Youth Shows






Tax Credits

Film Tax Credit



Job Creation Tax Credit



Research and Development Tax Credit



Keystone Opportunity Zone



Keystone Innovation Zone



Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax Credit



Alternative Energy Production Tax Credit









Campaign promises aside, apparently Gov. Wolf believes taxing low- and middle-income earners to fund corporate welfare will improve the state's economy. Yet, concentrating more economic power in the hands of Harrisburg has produced disappointing results.

The alternative—removing government barriers to growth—has a record of creating and sustaining economies that produce better job growth and higher wages for working people.

Ultimately, we will solve our economic challenges not by giving more power to Harrisburg politicians but by freeing entrepreneurs to serve the needs of Pennsylvania's communities.