Lame Duck Governor Wolf’s Budget Hides Future Tax Hikes
Quack. Quack. Quack.
Our “lame duck” Governor (meaning his term expires in less than 11 months and he cannot serve another term) has proposed a budget that would increase spending by $4.5 Billion and would leave us with a deficit of $1.3 Billion next year and a deficit of $13 Billion by 2026.
His Answer: “There are no guarantees…”
I asked the Secretary how much the sales tax and the personal income tax would need to be raised to cover a $13 Billion gap.
His Answer: “I don’t know.” Keep in mind, Secretary Hassell spent thirty years as a tax analyst for the Department of Revenue and the Senate.
I asked the Secretary if Pennsylvanians could afford a major increase in sales and income taxes to cover this huge deficit.
He “ducked” that answer, as well.
I’ll answer the Secretary’s question for him. To cover a $13 Billion hole in one year, it would almost double your income or sales taxes. That’s a 100% increase and no, you can’t afford to pay that, especially as our country continues to grapple with the highest level of inflation since 1982.
NO WONDER THEY DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU THAT!
Philadelphia District Attorney Blames Others for Crime Spike; Impeachment Possible
As Philadelphia continues to grapple with a tragic and historic rise in violent crime, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner refused to take responsibility for his role in the crisis. He claims that Harrisburg policies are to blame for the all-time record of homicides in Philadelphia, despite criticism from a bipartisan group of officials, including independent state Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne) and former Democratic Philadelphia mayors Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman sent a letter to leadership in the House of Representatives recommending they begin the process of impeaching Krasner, which you can read below or at this link.
Department of State Refuses to Engage on Bipartisan Election Reform
I recently chaired another public hearing of the Senate State Government Committee reviewing potential bipartisan election reforms and the Department of State, once again, refused to participate, continuing a pattern that’s plagued several of Governor Wolf’s five different Secretaries of the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s slogan is that this is a “Government that Works.” A more accurate description would be that this is a government that doesn’t even show up. It is far past time for the Department in charge of Pennsylvania’s elections to engage in these conversations instead of avoiding them like the plague.
Watch my full statement on the department’s absenteeism above.
Visit this link to watch the full hearing and read testimony provided by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. Read an article by the Morning Call about the hearing and my remarks here.
PA Courts Select New Congressional Map, Declare Mail-In Ballots Unconstitutional
For the second time in four years, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has approved a new district map for Pennsylvania’s members of Congress. The blame for this circumstance ultimately falls on Governor Wolf, who refused to work with anyone to approve a map.
Since this process began, Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and I were dedicated to working out a bipartisan compromise that could receive a majority vote in the Senate and the House and be approved by the governor. Despite our best efforts, Governor Wolf once again ignored the legislative process.
The Commonwealth Court ruled that Act 77’s provisions allowing no-excuse mail-in ballots violate the Pennsylvania Constitution. This decision has been appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by the Wolf Administration.
Many members of the Senate and the House have raised concerns about how the Department of State and former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who resigned in disgrace, warped Act 77 on the eve of the 2020 election by giving last minute directives to counties that created confusion and chaos. This decision by the courts would clear up many of these concerns.
The maps for the state Senate and House could also soon be finalized. The deadline for the constitutionally mandated 30-day period for legal challenges is March 6th. You can learn more about this process here.
Johns Hopkins Analysis Condemns Pandemic Lockdowns
A recent review of how lockdowns affected COVID-19 deaths concluded that there was little to no benefit to public health and huge economic and social costs. The study recommends that lockdown policies should not be implemented. The conclusions back up the efforts of Senate Republicans to end Governor Wolf’s shutdown of the economy during the early days of the pandemic.
Read the full study here.
More Natural Gas Funding for Local Projects?
After a significant, pandemic-related slump in 2020, Marcellus Shale impact fees greatly increased in 2021. This fee on natural gas producers in Pennsylvania was signed into law in 2012. The money collected funds many important programs in Pennsylvania, including the Growing Greener program, water and sewer infrastructure grants, soil and water conservation districts, and county and municipal governments where shale gas development occurs.
This money will help support many important projects across Pennsylvania, including the ongoing efforts to clean up the Schuylkill River (pictured above), which was once one of the dirtiest, most polluted waterways in the country before funding like this and dedicated volunteers restored it to its former glory. Read more here.
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