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Credit Where Due: Fiscal Wins to Build on in the 2022 State Budget

February 7, 2022, Harrisburg, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf has spent his final year in office claiming credit for fiscally-responsible policies enacted during his tenure, and he will attempt to embellish his legacy again with tomorrow’s budget address.

Nathan Benefield, senior vice president for the Commonwealth Foundation, issued the following statement ahead of Wolf’s address:

While shoring up the state’s Rainy Day Fund, balancing the budget without major tax increases on working families, resisting calls to spend one-time federal funds on ongoing programs, and leaving a surplus for the next governor are major wins for Pennsylvanians, they occurred because lawmakers reined in Wolf’s spending plans.

This budget season, lawmakers will again need to protect families’ pocketbooks. They should recognize that the current budget surplus is a mirage created by one-time federal stimulus dollars and spend this money on one-time expenses only. A truly balanced budget, not relying on federal funds that disappear next year, is the only way to protect future generations.

The last several years have seen numerous free-market reforms that benefited every Pennsylvanian, including historic public pension reform, a popular liquor modernization that allowed wine in grocery stores, and the tripling of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarship program that makes better education more accessible. Pennsylvanians should know that these victories have materialized not because of Wolf’s leadership, but despite his opposition.

To offer opportunity and progress to more Pennsylvania families in the 2022 state budget, Commonwealth Foundation recommends:

  1. Enacting a truly balanced state budget that matches spending to state revenues, ensures a stable Rainy Day Fund, and doesn’t rely on temporary federal funds.
  2. Passing the Taxpayer Protection Act, constitutional spending limits, to ensure fiscally-responsible governance for future generations.
  3. Ensuring every child has access to an excellent education by expanding the Educational Improvement Tax Credit to alleviate the waiting list, establishing Lifeline Scholarship Accounts for students stuck in low-performing schools, and providing pandemic relief grants to families dealing with learning loss.
  4. Fostering economic competitiveness through tax relief for small businesses, paying off the commonwealth’s unemployment compensation deficit to avoid tax hikes, and reducing red tape through permanently eliminating suspended regulations and strengthening regulatory review.

See Commonwealth Foundation’s 2022 Budget Checklist for more details.

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 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.