(HARRISBURG) – Senate Republicans today criticized the significant burdens associated with the Wolf budget plan, saying what Pennsylvania needs is relief. Republicans, who hold a 30-19 majority in the Senate, have made it clear that they will not support Tom Wolf’s enormous tax increases on Pennsylvania families and employers.
“While we certainly respect that the Governor has a concept for the 2015-16 state budget, the Senate Republican Caucus does not believe that massive tax increases will help make Pennsylvania a stronger state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25). “Today’s budget certainly clarifies that Governor Wolf is fixated on taxing and spending his way out of the state’s problems. As budget discussions progress, Senate Republicans will be a voice for reason and helping to provide relief from the disastrous effects Tom Wolf’s budget would have on hardworking residents across our Commonwealth.”
The Governor is proposing devastating tax increases totaling $4.7 billion for the upcoming fiscal year – the largest in state history. His proposal would raise taxes by $12 billion over the next two fiscal years – about $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania. Families will pay more in personal income taxes and sales and use taxes, which, under the Wolf plan, increases and makes additional items taxable. It is immensely concerning that in his proposal, there is nothing that will keep property taxes from going back up.
“The proposed Wolf increase to the personal income tax will cost families of four earning about $52,000 a year approximately $331 a year, which is more than one week’s worth of groceries,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34). “Combine that increase with changes to the sales tax, and families will feel the one-two punch of this budget directly in their pocketbooks to cover the excesses of government spending. Pennsylvania families cannot simply raise their revenues to fund the Governor’s desire to spend on unproven programs. Relief for Pennsylvania comes in the form of changing the system – addressing the structural deficit problems such as pensions – before considering new revenue sources.”
While Gov. Wolf is engrossed in borrowing over $6 billion against the state, and spending billions and billions of dollars, the Senate Republican Caucus remains focused on tangible initiatives to help Pennsylvanians, such as passing pension reform and improving the state’s business environment.
“We need to address current funding shortfalls and structural deficits facing the Commonwealth, including an unsustainable pension obligation, before we look at increasing spending and instead of raising taxes on our hardworking families and employers,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (R-16). “Higher income and sales taxes, a massive energy tax and a $4.7 billion increase in spending is not going to help grow our economy — it will only grow our government. Our citizens and Pennsylvania employers need real reforms and relief, not increased burdens.”
“It is clear the number one budget issue for the state and school districts is the increasing pension commitment, which cannot be avoided,” said Senate Majority Whip John Gordner (R-27). “Rather than focus on tax increases, we should look at pension reform as the first step in responsible budgeting.”
Senate Republicans stressed that in these challenging economic times, the Commonwealth must chart a clear and predictable course that focuses on fiscal restraint and core priorities.
“Over the past four years Pennsylvania’s economy has been on the right track, as Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is at the lowest rate in more than six years and with the right fiscal policies, it can go lower,” said Scarnati. “We will not allow the irresponsible budget proposed by Tom Wolf to destroy the hard work we have done over the past several years to develop a strong business climate and increase access to good family sustaining jobs across Pennsylvania.”