Wolf Admits He Doesn’t Need To Raise Utility Bills On Pennsylvanians; Wants To Anyway
Agrees With Wagner That Commonwealth’s Checkbook Can Be Balanced Using Zero-Based Budgeting Techniques
Yesterday, Governor Wolf did a radio interview with WESA where he acknowledged that a severance tax is not needed for him to fund all the initiatives he is proposing in this year’s budget. Wolf asserted that he can fund his proposed spending increases by better managing agencies, an idea that is a cornerstone of Scott Wagner’s campaign.
KEVIN GAVIN: If the Republican controlled legislature doesn’t see it (the severance tax) as an easy lift, to use your term, can you still do what you proposed in your budget without that?
TOM WOLF: Yes. Yeah.
KEVIN GAVIN: How so?
TOM WOLF: Revenues are coming in in healthy fashion, and as I say, I’m working hard to streamline things. Our headcount is down by 1,000. These are just retirements. So leadership and the agencies and the employees are figuring out how to make things work without as many people. So things like that I think are making state government work better and allows us to actually come in with a balanced budget and a good fiscal year even without the severance tax. (WESA, 6/6/18)
Wagner for Governor campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said of Wolf’s admission, “The fact that Tom Wolf is openly confessing that he does not need severance tax revenue for his budget, but is pushing for it anyway, proves he is nothing more than a taxaholic determined to get his hands on the benefits of President Trump’s tax cuts. While it’s disappointing the Governor continues to advocate to for unnecessary utility bill increases on Pennsylvanians, it is encouraging that he is finally coming to agree with Scott Wagner, that Harrisburg has a spending and mismanagement problem. We’re happy to see the Governor is starting to employ some of the techniques of zero-based budgeting and we encourage him to get in touch with Scott if he has any further questions on how it works.”
Just a few weeks ago it was reported by The Incline that, “With Pennsylvanians consuming roughly 20 percent of the gas produced here, the severance tax likely will cause utility bills in Pennsylvania to grow.” (The Incline, 5/25/18)
This was shortly after it was announced that President Trump’s tax reform package is beginning to lower the energy bills of hardworking Pennsylvanians.
“The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday ordered a $320 million rate reduction for most of the state’s electric, gas and water utilities on July 1 to reflect the lower federal tax rate that went into effect this year…For Pennsylvania electric utilities, the rate cuts will range from a reduction of 0.6 percent for customers of PPL Electric Utilities to 8.6 percent for customers of Metropolitan Edison Co.” (Inquirer, 5/17/18)
Therefore, while President Trump is effectively lowering utility bills for Pennsylvanians, Tom Wolf is simultaneously pushing for a tax that will raise them back up again. He thinks savings from the federal tax cuts belong to him.