HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday proposed a more than $33 billion dollar budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year during his address to the General Assembly.
The governor’s plan includes a $1.19 billion increase in spending and is dependent on approval of a natural gas severance tax.
State Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria) issued this response to the governor’s proposal:
“Proposing no broad-based tax increases is a welcome change of tune for the governor. I applaud him for coming to the realization those votes don’t exist on either side of the aisle in the House.
“That doesn’t mean he is asking more of hard-working Pennsylvanians. The governor once again wants to further tax the natural gas industry, and in turn increase customers’ energy bills.
“He quickly notes we are the only major gas-producing state that lacks a severance tax, but ignores the fact that our existing impact fee – which is a tax – generates more tax revenue than the combined severance taxes of Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio and West Virginia.
“Our economy is growing. One year ago at this time, we were $1.5 billion ‘in the red.’ The latest revenue numbers reflect an approximate $40 million surplus that figures to increase with the new federal tax law.
“In his mind, the governor has that money already spent – and then some – when he asks to increase overall spending by more than a billion dollars.
“Granted, this is only a starting point in the process, and I like the governor’s tone with regard to jobs and increased support for career and technical programs.
“But our focus must be on growing the economy, maximizing natural gas for the asset it is and not driving away jobs.
“Pennsylvania lost approximately 10,000 jobs last year, and we have to find ways to make our state more attractive to businesses.”