March 9, 2015

Quick Summary Of Monday Budget Hearings: Case Of The Disappearing Deficit

The House Appropriations Committee opened its first day of budget hearings Monday with testimony from the Independent Fiscal Office saying the state’s budget deficit is closer to $1.5 billion than the $2.3 billion deficit Gov. Wolf talked about in last week’s budget address.
A spokesperson Gov. Wolf said in response the deficit is a bit more than $2 billion.
Acting Revenue Secretary Eileen McNulty was questioned repeatedly by Republican Committee members about the “gigantic” tax increases proposed by the Governor.
McNulty told the panel that while tax increases were proposed to go into effect in FY 2015-16, taxpayers would not see any property tax relief until October 2016.  She said the average taxpayer making $65,000 a year would see an average of $1,000 in net tax relief under the fully implemented tax proposal.
The proposed Personal Income Tax increase would be earmarked for property tax relief under the Governor’s plan and $1.75 billion from the Sales Tax increase would be devoted to pay the state’s contribution to school employee pensions.
When asked why the Wolf Administration did not eliminate school property taxes altogether, McNulty said, “I think we’d love to,” adding the tax proposals take into account the state is facing a $2 billion deficit.
Written testimony and a video of each hearing will be posed on the Republican House Appropriations Committee webpage.
Testimony Available
Christopher Craig, Acting State Treasurer