Gov. Wolf has angrily accused the House of refusing to pass a tax increase, implying it was agreed to when the spending plan passed on June 30.
But a check of the historical records—statements made by all parties on June 29 and 30—contradict that claim. No one, not even Gov. Wolf, said that the budget required tax increases. Both House and Senate Republicans explicitly stated the budget deal did not include tax hikes.
The House GOP leadership statement on June 30 said the spending plan is “reducing and eliminating outdated bureaucratic expenditures, without raising taxes.” They described the bill as a “bipartisan, no income or sales tax increase budget.” They go so far as to say, “without imposing new or increased taxes on hard-working Pennsylvanians or employers”
They even created a meme saying the budget had no new taxes.
Rep. Markosek’s statement does not mention the need to raise taxes. In fact, the word “taxes” doesn’t appear. The word “taxpayers” appears but once, in the sentence, “Taxpayers expect the state to pay its bills and reduce our deficit.”
The Senate Republicans statement on June 29 indicates that the budget protects taxpayers. The Senate GOP states the budget increases spending “without the need for new or increased income or sales taxes.” They add that constituents told them they “could not withstand a massive tax increase” that the budget represents a compromise “without asking for a broad-based tax increase”. Finally, they claim they are “protecting hard working individuals and job creators from onerous tax increases.”
Like his counterpart in the House, Chairman Hughes makes no mention of the need to raise taxes, and doesn’t use the word “taxes” (or even “revenue”) in his statement. Rather, he calls the spending plan “austere.”
Incredibly, even Governor Wolf’s statement doesn’t mention the word “taxes.” He only uses the word “revenue” once, saying we need “a sustainable revenue package.”
Here at the Commonwealth Foundation, we’ve outlined multiple alternatives to balancing the budget without requiring working families to pay more, including privatizing liquor sales and tapping reserves and corporate welfare in the shadow budget.
Let’s hope lawmakers and Gov. Wolf stick to the promises they made on June 30.