(HARRISBURG) – Today Governor Wolf unveiled his proposed $40.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The governor’s plan includes a $3.1 billion (8.2 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year, according to Senator Lisa Baker (R-20).
Senator Baker said the governor’s desire to achieve education funding increases by raising the state’s personal income tax for most Pennsylvanian’s from 3.07% to 4.49% is concerning, as this would be the largest jump in the last 30 years. She noted that while the governor is calling for a major spending increase in several budgetary line items, he is planning to eliminate $5 million in state funding for broadband expansion, as well as millions of dollars for agricultural programs and health care services. She believes the plan also neglects the struggles of small businesses and working families.
“Every year, as we commence the process of formulating a state budget plan, we must come together to strike a balance between respecting taxpayers and funding important programs that residents across our Commonwealth depend upon.
“To many taxpayers, this looks like the wrong budget at the wrong moment. This budget should begin with a plan for plugging the shortfalls in our health care system and correcting the major errors in the state’s pandemic response. Unfortunately, Governor Wolf has chosen to reach for the same big government remedies that continue to fail us in this time of extraordinary challenge.
“It is hard to see how higher taxes and increased spending can be justified, when over the last year state government has demonstrated that it is not being particularly well-run. Nearly everywhere we look, state oversight and protective services have been found to be lacking. Mandates have taken the place of common sense precautions. The problems in state veterans’ homes, long-term care facilities, correctional institutions, and other places cannot be blamed on the federal government. Serious questions about direction and accountability in state government must be addressed before any thought is given to increasing taxes.
“Every day we read about workers who cannot, even at this late date, get results from the unemployment compensation system. The same is true for essential workers trying to get sufficient protective equipment or vaccinations. Workers continue to lose jobs as more businesses are forced to close, not just because of pandemic restrictions, but because of changes in consumer spending forced on families by economic difficulties and fear of exposure to COVID-19. Every governor at some point says we have to do much better at workforce development, and attempts improvements, but still the system is wanting. Again, more money is not a magical fix, especially in the context of the pandemic and the potential for crippling economic contributors to pay for readjustments.
“There is nothing novel about a governor calling for more education money. Pumping more money into the existing structure may satisfy political arithmetic, but it is not going to solve structural problems. Deficiencies in broadband access are proving to be a major stumbling block to education equality and improvement, a consideration outside whatever funding formula someone prefers.
“We cannot ignore that this past year has been tremendously challenging for so many families in our region, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial hardships that it has caused. It is imperative that we listen to constituents to gather their thoughts and perspective, before asking for more of their hard-earned tax dollars.”
Media Contact: Kate Flessner firstname.lastname@example.org