March 3, 2015

Senate/House Republican Reaction To Gov. Wolf’s Proposed Budget

President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson) reacted to Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget by saying,, “With over $12 billion in tax increases over two years, anybody who doesn’t believe those tax increases on working class Pennsylvanians aren’t coming out of their pocket they need to get a new pencil and calculator.” He said, “We need to fix the structural deficit. We need to fix pensions; that is the number one cost driver.” Sen. Scarnati added, “I did not hear anything from the governor on pensions today.”
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) told reporters, “If we are actually going to fix our pension problem we are going to need to look at the structural issues dealing with it and solve that first and then we talk about the rest of the budget.” He observed, “Any property tax reduction we would do as he suggested would be eaten right back up by the school district’s pension contribution over the next two years.” Sen. Corman continued, “Now you would have a higher income tax, a higher sales tax and you would have the high property taxes again.” He asserted, “This doesn’t solve the problem.” Sen. Corman said, “It is a mirage. It is not based on reality.” According to Sen. Corman, “We give school districts relief by fixing pensions. We give universities relief by fixing pensions. We give the Commonwealth relief by fixing pensions.” Senate Appropriations Committee Majority Chair Patrick Browne (R-Lehigh) said, “With a personal income tax increase and a sales tax increase we are directly applying costs on a growing segment of our economy which is directly counter to what good tax policy is.” He argued that the governor’s priorities are “not sustain.”
Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) Tuesday said House Republicans will thoroughly examine Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget and his entire spending plan for fiscal year 2015-16.  Rep. Reed issued the following statement on the proposal:
"As always, the governor's budget address to the General Assembly represents the beginning of a discussion between his office, along with members of the House and Senate. I look forward to hearings of our Appropriations Committee to learn more about everything the governor has proposed in his budget plan.
"We as House Republicans support, as we have in the past, jobs that pay, and lowering the cost of doing business in the state will help retain and create good, family-sustaining jobs. We agree with the need to reduce the state's Corporate Net Income tax (CNI) and are relieved the governor took any Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) discussion off the table. Now begins the discussion to realistically reach these goals.
"This budget proposal calls for historic spending, an increase of 16 percent increase over this fiscal year, with the potential to be the largest tax increase in Commonwealth history. Included are increases in the income and sales taxes. In fact, the sales tax would rise to 6.6 percent and include items not already taxed, such as newspapers, daycare expenses, textbooks, diapers, walkers, haircuts, professional services and nursing home care.
"I do appreciate the governor's efforts to provide property tax relief. People across the state should not have to choose between paying their property tax bill, or buying medicine or heating their homes.
"Again, this is the start of a discussion on how to spend taxpayer dollars in a way that provides essential services and primes the Commonwealth for future growth. I look forward to working with members of the House, Senate and the governor's office in achieving this."