HARRISBURG – State Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) joined the majority of state House members Wednesday in passing the final pieces of legislation to implement the 2016-17 state budget.
The package, which will put the state’s spending plan into balance for the fiscal year, does not include the broad-based sales and income tax increases originally demanded by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Gabler issued the following statement upon passage of the legislation, which advanced with bipartisan support:
“I am proud to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania in working to enact a bipartisan budget agreement while continuing to fight to protect taxpayers from unnecessary and burdensome tax increases.
“I believe the product we delivered, while not perfect, is a taxpayer-friendly package that enables us to balance our budget and pay our bills. While additional work is needed to control costs and seek savings in the coming year, it is important that we start with a budget that leaves the Commonwealth on solid financial footing.
“As part of the package of legislation, House Bill 1198 lays out some of the revenue sources associated with the budget. Most of the new revenue generated comes from sources that do not require additional taxes or fees, such as increased collections from delinquent taxpayers and additional receipts from our recently-enacted liquor reform law.
“While some compromises were necessary to achieve consensus on spending items, most new spending reflects a recognition of paying bills that are due rather than creation of new programs. Continuing increases in mandatory pension contributions and increased Medicaid costs are paid for in this budget without passing the debt on to our children and grandchildren.
“A key feature of this legislation is something I have fought for since being approached by members of the Elk County Farm Bureau five years ago – a leveling of the playing field for our timber harvesters.
“House Bill 1198 would exclude from sales tax the purchase of machinery, equipment and parts used in timbering. This initiative recognizes that the timber industry belongs in the same category with farming, dairy, and manufacturing in receiving this exclusion, since sales tax is collected when the final product is sold at retail. This provision I fought to include in our budget package will make a positive impact on the jobs climate in our area.
“For the second year in a row, our governor has taken a pass and refused to sign the budget that became law. In the absence of his leadership, I am honored to succeed in fighting for the timely enactment of a taxpayer-friendly state budget without broad-based tax increases that will provide stability, predictability and a favorable environment for jobs in the coming year.”