Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his 2018-2019 spending plan in Harrisburg Tuesday morning. The total budget is 33 billion dollars.
That’s up by about one billion over last year.
The governor wants to spend more money on education and job training — but would not raise income or sales taxes.
And once again the severance tax debate will be front and center. Eyewitness News Reporter Eric Deabill has the details
“It’s our turn to make the tough decisions with courage and conviction….”
It’s the white whale that Governor Tom Wolf has never been able to get — a severance tax on natural gas drillers — but Tuesday he announced he’s trying again.
“Everywhere else — Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alaska — they’re bringing in billions of dollars from the oil and gas industries. That money is going to fix roads, build schools and keep taxes low” The Governor Noted
Reaction from lawmakers was party-line dependent.
Many democrats are in favor.
“I think the time is right. I think the industry should be at the table and I think we should try to get this done this year” said Senator John Blake, (D) Lackawanna/Monroe Counties.
Republicans are skeptical.
“I wish he would have devoted over the last couple of years — one-tenth of the time to property taxes that he keeps wasting on severance taxes!” Said Senator David Argall,
Last year — the Pennsylvania Senate did pass severance tax legislation — but it faced stiff opposition in the house from fiscal conservatives.
But could that change this year?
“I do think there are conversations going back and forth in a bi-partisan measure and i think there are some conversations that could come to fruition in some way” said Representative Rosemary Brown, (R) Monroe/Pike Counties
This is Governor Wolf’s fourth straight attempt to pass a severance tax
“I think it is the most obvious place to go — that’s new money — it’s not raising taxes!” Added State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, (D) Luzerne County
Lawmakers must pass a balanced budget by July first.
While that hasn’t been done in the last several years — some republican lawmakers said today… Their goal this year — is to get everything done in May.