HARRISBURG – State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) today said that he will work with fellow members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to carefully review Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed 2017-18 state budget.
While Yaw is encouraged that the governor did not propose massive based-tax increases, as he has in prior years, he said he is concerned that his plan includes $1 billion in new taxes. It also contains many proposals funded by one-time revenues, while failing to address skyrocketing pension costs and long-term spending.
“After calling for huge tax increases, Governor Wolf has finally offered a budget that looks to rein in spending before raising taxes,” Yaw said. “However, the major cost- drivers, including pensions, and the growth in Medicaid, are not addressed, and his budget includes a limited number of ideas about how the state can save money. We also need to explore how the Governor’s consolidation of state departments will affect the delivery of services to Pennsylvanians.”
Yaw said he is also disappointed that Governor Wolf continues to insist on an unrealistic natural gas severance tax to fund his budget priorities. “The idea of creating a new severance tax is completely impractical and a perfect example of bad public policy,” Yaw said. “Simply put, we don’t need a new tax on natural gas extraction, because we already have a tax on natural gas in the form of impact fees. Revenue from the impact fee fund a wide variety of projects, from statewide environmental initiatives to local infrastructure improvements, affordable housing and local community and recreation projects.”
Yaw said he looks forward to reviewing the details of the Governor’s proposal over the coming weeks, as the Legislature engages in a thorough review of his proposal during Appropriations Committee budget hearings. The Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Senator Yaw is a member, will begin three weeks of public hearings on the proposed budget on February 21.
The Governor proposes total spending of $32.337 billion which is an increase of $571.5 million or, 1.8 percent, above the current spending. The Basic Education Funding allocation is proposed at $5.995 billion, an increase of $100 million, or 1.7 percent. The Ready to Learn Block Grant allocation is proposed at $250 million, the same amount as the current year’s budget.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff