Taxpayers on the Hook for Wolf’s Spending Binge

Despite the lack of a completed state budget, and no support for his unpopular tax hike proposals, Gov. Wolf continues to rack up additional costs for taxpayers

Wolf's executive order would increase payroll and benefit expenses by $1.5 million in fiscal year 2016-17 for the 450 employees affected, according to estimates provided in Wolf administration fiscal note. The majority of those employees are seasonal workers like tax season clerk and temporary clerical pool workers.

It would also apply to contractors under new contracts with the state beginning in July which the fiscal note estimates would cost about $2.6 million annually.

It's the latter provision that concerns some observers, including state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township. He said what is actually written into the order does not match the narrow focus that Wolf spoke about in his news conference. As written, he said, it could apply to any contractor working directly with the state.

“It shows the governor or anyone who drafts this stuff is not on the same page,” he said. “Their political talking points don't match up with the reality.”

That's $4.1 million in added costs to taxpayers—more, if Republicans are correct about Wolf's poorly worded executive order—with the stroke of the pen.

Ironically, while Wolf recognizes the additional cost of state worker wage increases—paid for with higher taxes—he refuses to admit the additional costs created for private businesses by a minimum wage mandate. Such costs include higher prices, fewer business owners, reduced job hours and layoffs. The Independent Fiscal Offices estimates 31,000 jobs would be lost with a statewide minimum wage increase. 

This executive order is not the only way Wolf is driving up taxpayer costs. His administration recently spent $250,000 to come up with a new state slogan and will spend another $500,000 to promote that slogan. Somehow, this is supposed to attract tourists to come visit Pennsylvania.

Government shouldn't be in the business of marketing to tourists—and it doesn't even do a good job with the millions spent every year in that effort. That money, along with the nearly $700 million in corporate welfare subsidies, should be redirected to priorities in the state budget—or left in the hands of taxpayers.

Yet, instead of scrubbing the budget of corporate welfare, Gov. Wolf continues to demand higher taxes on working families, and promises cuts to education and human services if he doesn't get his demands.

Maybe he should stop throwing around millions in taxpayer dollars to score political points.