by CCDC Chairman Brian McGinnis, 12/23/15
We all know that Pennsylvania’s Republican Legislature is intent on ignoring the historic victory won by Tom Wolf last fall. They have crafted a budget that ignores the platform that was endorsed by the voters when they elected him. But politics aside, the Legislature should act on good policies because they benefit our state, not just because the Governor won the election. So it is even more important to note that the Republican budget ignores what the data say about the state of our state.
According to a study by Wallet Hub, Pennsylvania ranks 39th in property taxes (1st being the lowest and 50th being the highest). The Governor proposed a reasonable property tax relief proposal modeled off previous related legislation that provides relief to everyone while directing the most relief to seniors and others who need it most. The Republican budget fails to provide one new dollar for property tax relief for anyone.
According to the Keystone Research Center, we are the only major gas-producing state that does not have a severance tax. PBPC also states that about 90% of gas drilled in Pennsylvania is consumed in other states. So while Pennsylvania remains the cheapest place to drill for gas, the savings are passed on to residents in other states. The Republican Budget fails to enact an extraction tax like the Governor has demanded.
According to CNBC, Pennsylvania ranks 40th among states for their business environment. The Governor, a successful businessman himself, proposed massive cuts to the nation’s highest corporate tax rate and loophole reform to make sure our business taxes are applied equally, which all-told would result in a reduction in business taxes by about one third. Despite their loud pronouncements about business-friendliness, the Republican Budget includes no new business tax relief.
According to the Education Law Center, Pennsylvania ranks 41st in the percentage of school funding that comes from the state. We rely mostly on local sources instead. This partially explains why, according to the Keystone Research Center, Pennsylvania ranks 1st in educational inequality – by a wide margin. Instead of the Governor’s $1 Billion in new funds for education, distributed via a new Fair Funding Formula, the Republican budget offers PA’s 500 school districts less than $10 Million in total new funding.
Chester County Legislators should put ideology aside and look at the numbers! Our state has big issues to address. The Republican Legislature’s budget addresses none of them. They should put aside political games and work with the Governor to pass a budget based on practical solutions to our state’s challenges.