Wagner Questions Motive Behind Wolf’s Budget Address
2018 gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner today questioned the motive behind Governor Wolf’s budget proposal, which includes the lowest amount of tax increases Wolf has pushed for since taking office.
“No matter what he said today, Governor Wolf cannot escape the fact that his leadership has resulted in over $ 1.3 billion in tax increases, and he has fought for billions more,” said Wagner.
During the governor’s tenure, Pennsylvanians have seen tax increases on lottery winnings, tobacco, digital downloads and bank shares. This year, in what he described as a “budget that makes sense for Pennsylvania,” Wolf is not advocating for any broad-based tax increases.
Wagner says he’s not buying the rhetoric, which reminds him of the promises Wolf made on the campaign trail in 2014, and neither should the taxpayers.
“During the 2014 Gubernatorial election, then candidate Wolf said that we didn’t need sales or broad based income tax increases. Then in 2015, he proposed both, claiming that it would be deceitful to suggest the budget could be balanced without those hikes,” Wagner explained. “In 2016 and 2017 he wanted more of the same. This year, however, knowing the people of Pennsylvania are tired of having him try to dip his hands into their pockets, the Governor is desperately trying to change his tune.”
Wagner said that Governor Wolf’s tax-heavy record makes clear he cannot be taken him at his word. “Pennsylvania deserves a governor who will always tell them the truth, and has a deep sense of conviction about his priorities for the state. Tom Wolf has breached the people’s trust far too many times, and they’re too smart to fall for his bait and switch tactics again.”
“This year’s budget proposal should leave Pennsylvanians wondering what their governor actually stands for and confirm to them Tom Wolf is just another Harrisburg politician willing to do or say anything to get elected,” concluded Wagner.
2014 – Candidate Wolf campaigns on progressive income tax increase and no sales tax increase:
“Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf would make a centerpiece of his first budget proposal an increase in income taxes on Pennsylvania’s higher-earners to help expand the state’s share of public education funding….Wolf, however, does not support an increase in sales taxes, saying he views it as falling too heavily on lower-income consumers.” (AP, 7/26/14)
“We cannot over tax. We cannot create tax burdens that are unfair to anybody – families, individuals or businesses.” (PA Chamber Gubernatorial Debate, 9/22/14)
2015 – Governor Wolf pushes for a sales tax increase and across-the-board income tax hike in his 2015-2016 budget proposal
“My plan raises the personal income tax to 3.7 percent. And it will make up for lost revenue by increasing the sales tax from 6 to 6.6 percent, while broadening the base to include services that currently are not taxed because special interest groups have lobbied for special exemptions.” (Budget Address, 3/10/15)
“I just want to bring our sales tax up to date. Yes, if you haven’t been paying taxes on it and now you are paying 6.6, that is a change. On the other hand, look back and say for 50 or 60 years, you got a free ride.” (PA Matters Radio Interview, 4/28/15)
“I think you need Marcellus but I don’t see how you get there without a broad based tax increase. I’ve been working on that – If I could do that, I would be there in a second because this would be a wonderful thing. And it’s so tempting to be able to appeal to that desire for all the revenues you want so you can spend all the money you want without a tax increase, but we haven’t been able to do it in the past. And there’s a reason for it, you can’t do it. Take anybody that you want and look at it, and unless you’re willing to be deceitful you can’t get to a balanced budget without raising broad based revenues.” (Tom Wolf Press Conference, 10/5/15)
2016 – Governor Wolf advocates for more taxes in 2016-2017 budget proposal
“In fact, the governor would even draw more taxes on the paycheck you probably received last week, setting a new personal income tax rate at 3.4 percent, retroactive to Jan. 1. He asked the Legislature Tuesday for what would be one of the biggest tax increases in state history: $2.7 billion through 2016-17 fiscal year, and this time, there are no school property tax cuts to offset it.” (Pennlive, 2/9/16)
“Here is a rundown of Wolf’s latest tax ideas:
•An 11 percent increase to the personal income tax. Changing the current 3.07 percent rate to 3.4 percent would raise an additional $1.4 billion.
•A 6.5 percent tax on natural gas drillers operating in the Marcellus shale region. Drillers now pay a lower impact fee. A severance tax would raise $217.8 million at current gas prices.
•A 6 percent sales taxes on basic cable TV, movie theater tickets and digital downloads. The new taxes would raise $414.6 million.
•A .5 percent tax on fire, property and liability casualty insurance premiums for individuals and businesses. The new tax would raise $100.9 million.
•A $1 tax on a pack of cigarettes and a 40 percent tax on cigars, tobacco chewers and vaporized e-cigarette smokers, all of which are not taxed now. The taxes would raise $604.1 million.
•An 8 percent tax on casino slot machine and table gaming winnings and a 3.4 percent tax on Pennsylvania Lottery jackpots. The combined taxes would raise $67.2 million.
•An 11 percent increase on the banking industry. The so-called bank shares tax would raise $39.2 million.” (Morning Call, 2/9/16)
2017 – Governor Wolf calls for $1 billion dollars in new taxes for 2017-2018 budget
“Gov. Tom Wolf today unveiled his budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year for Pennsylvania. The budget calls for the consolidation of several departments as part of a search government-wide for cost savings. At the same time, Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed $1 billion in new taxes for fiscal year 2017-18” (PennLive, 2/7/17)
“If you live in one of the nearly 1,300 (mostly rural) municipalities that rely solely on the State Police, Wolf’s budget calls for the equivalent of a $25 per capita fee in order to fund the agency’s operations and future recruitment. That’s expected to bring in $63 million. Meanwhile, the 6 percent sales tax will be expanded to include largely corporate sales tax uses including computer-based services ($330 million) to commercial storage ($154 million) to airline meals ($800,000).” (PennLive, 2/7/17)