Gov.-Elect Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro, co-chair of his Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force, told reporters Wednesday we do not know the real size of the state’s budget deficit-- whether it’s $2 billion or likely more-- and that is Wolf’s first order of business before decisions are made on how to address it.
Wolf also said Gov. Corbett should hold off on making key decisions-- like implementing HealthyPA and deciding the future of the York School District receivership-- until he takes office. Wolf repeated his position he will undo HealthPA and seek to expand Medicaid when he takes office January 20.
Shapiro repeated the budget points issued by the Wolf Transition Tuesday saying: the FY 2014-15 was built on one-time revenue sources, the state’s cash-flow will be negative at the beginning of 2015, the state’s has maxed out it’s line of credit and had to borrow $1.5 billion to “keep the lights on” and Pennsylvania is 50th in job creation.
Wolf said “we are in a crisis situation” with respect to the budget. Both Wolf and Shapiro said the budget problems were the result of a failed ideology that was supposed to bring good things to Pennsylvania, but didn’t.
Shapiro went further saying, “It is laughable that Corbett improved the budget situation from where he found it. We are in a far worse situation today than we were four years ago.”
Wolf said the state has also gotten into an “orgie” of one-time budget fixes that just don’t make any sense.
State revenue growth must come primarily from economic growth, Wolf said. When asked about his proposal for a natural gas severance tax, Wolf said he hopes it will be part of the solution saying a 5 percent tax would bring in about $1 billion he would use to better fund education.
On pensions, Wolf said he would entertain a broad range of solutions, including pension obligation bonds, but what he would not do is delay payments the state should have been making to fund pension obligations.
Both Wolf and Shapiro stressed they needed to work with members of the General Assembly to create solutions to these problems and it was time for Republicans and Democrats to come together to deal with these issues.
“Voters didn’t choose gridlock,” Wolf said.
Wolf said he wanted to make it clear to the public he is inheriting this budget problem and didn’t create it.For more information, visit the Wolf Transition website.