Tax Hike Redux? History Says Wolf’s Budget Address Could Cost You

In his first three budget addresses, Gov. Wolf proposed massive tax increases of $4.7 billion, $2.7 billion, and $1 billion. Will Wolf stick to his tax-and-spend budget formula and propose another billion-dollar tax increase this year? Or will he finally concede that Pennsylvanians don’t want to pay more to fund a dysfunctional state government?

These questions will be answered on Tuesday as Wolf delivers his fourth budget proposal. Ahead of his address, the Commonwealth Foundation has compiled a history of the tax hikes Wolf has proposed or supported—totaling 10 tax hike attempts in three years.

“On Tuesday, Gov. Wolf should admit that Pennsylvanians have rejected his plans to dramatically grow state government by taking more from working families,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president & COO for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Instead, Wolf should propose a responsible budget that protects taxpayers and puts Pennsylvania’s finances back on solid ground. That means controlling spending growth, enacting structural reforms, and ensuring that the constitutional balanced budget mandate is followed.”

(Timeline: History of Wolf’s Tax Hikes)

Pennsylvania’s current state and local tax burden amounts to a stunning $4,589 per person, or $18,356 per family of four. Yet, Pennsylvania lags in economic growth and opportunity: Since 1991, Pennsylvania has ranked 46th in job growth, 46th in population growth, and 46th in personal income growth. It’s time policymakers chart a new course.

“This budget season, Gov. Wolf and lawmakers must realize that taxing and borrowing are not solutions to Pennsylvania’s fiscal problems,” continued Benefield. “Controlling the rate of spending growth, as outlined in the Taxpayer Protection Act passed by the House late last year, is a true solution to structural deficits. Building on successful corrections reforms, breaking the state’s addiction to corporate welfare handouts, and reforming our human services system by requiring work for healthy adults are policy solutions that will truly put our state back on track.”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder 717-461-7978 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.