In an ambitious first budget plan, Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday proposed more than $4 billion in higher taxes on income, sales and natural gas drilling to support new spending on schools and to cut property taxes as part of an effort to overhaul the way public education is funded.
Wolf, a Democrat, is also asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to cut corporate taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, borrow more than $4 billion to refinance pension debt and inject new money into business loans, clean energy subsidies and water and sewer system projects.
Pennsylvania already is in the hole by some $2 billion, and it’s getting an increase in allegedly mandatory spending, for the upcoming fiscal year, of $1.6 billion.
So he wants to raise taxes overall and to borrow more. Because money grows on trees in the Democratic Orchard.
Wolf’s spending plan would increase overall state spending through the state’s main bank account by about 3% to $29.9 billion from the current year’s approved budget. Counting $1.75 billion in pension obligation payments to the Public School Employees Retirement System and $2.1 billion in school property tax relief receipts, the increase is about 16%….
“Pay” for tax cuts here by raising taxes there. Borrow to cover increased spending. But raise taxes overall, and increase spending. Mandatory spending? No. There is no such thing. Some spending is harder to cut, whether fiscally or morally, than other spending, but none of it is mandatory beyond the bare minimum needed to fund what the state’s constitution—the people’s instructions—mandates is the government’s purpose.
Covering the budget shortfall by cutting spending is anathema. Covering the budget shortfall by also cutting taxes and watching the economy grow from that increase in private sector money, yielding a net increase in revenue to the government, is utterly inconceivable.