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PA-BGT: Wolf Will Sign Revenue Package

Governor-WolfThe 2016-17 budget season is over.

The PA House and Senate pushed through a $1.3 billion revenue package Wednesday afternoon, and Gov. Tom Wolf said he would sign the bill and “avoid another lengthy impasse.”

“Over the last several months, I have worked together with Republicans and Democrats to achieve major progress on issues including the legalization of medical marijuana, the passage of historic liquor reform, and the enactment of a fair funding formula that ensures basic education funding is distributed to schools based on a district’s unique needs,” Wolf said in a statement. “Recently, we also came together to pass a budget that included historic investment in education at all levels and much-needed funding to combat Pennsylvania’s heroin crisis. Today’s passage of a revenue package means that we avoid another lengthy impasse, our budget is balanced this year, and we have greatly reduced the commonwealth’s structural budget deficit.”

After some spirited debate – highlighted by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe reading the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Taxman” in urging his colleagues to reject the measure – the House of Representatives approved the revenue package by a 116-75 vote. The Senate passed the bill 28-22.

The passage of the revenue package comes less than 48 hours after a $31.6 billion spending plan became law without Wolf’s signature. The 2016-17 budget has been finished less than two weeks late, just three months on from the record nine-month standoff over the 2015-16 budget.

The revenue package includes an estimated $431 million from a $1/pack tax increase on cigarettes and $149 million from expanded liquor and wine sales. Smokeless tobacco is earmarked to bring in $46.2 million, while e-cigarette revenues are projected at $13.3 million.

Lawmakers are expecting $100 million from Internet gaming and off-track betting parlors, and are taking away the sales tax exemption on digital downloads for another $47 million. The state will also borrow $200 million to balance the budget.

Under the 2016-17 budget, Wolf will get “historic increases in education funding that begin to restore the deep cuts made during the previous administration,” including additional $200 million for basic education, $40 million for higher education, $30 million for early childhood education, $20 million for special education, and $10 million for early intervention programs.

The second-year Governor will be given $15 million in state funding, plus $5.4 million in federal funding, to implement programs and construct treatment centers to fight PA’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

7 Responses

  1. Rich keep getting richer. Nothing trickling down here folks except what usually flows down hill. PA fiscal mess keeps getting deeper and PA House and Senate incumbents of both parties will be re-elected in November but Wolf will take the fall in 2 years.

  2. Not sure what some people want, exactly. If you raise the “sin taxes” it’s regressive and not a very reliable source of revenue.

    If you propose the alternative and do broad based sales and PIT tax increases for more sustainable funding, the GOP-controlled House revolts and you get the impasse we had last year.

    And if you say “do neither, just CUT!”, there’s never specific cuts proposed totaling a billion dollars that are viable and reasonable. Like….what the hell did any of you expect?

  3. The state government now has a vested interest in keeping people addicted to nicotine. Big Tobacco must be smiling. Casino workers continue to be bombarded with cancer causing second hand smoke. What a government we have.

  4. Only one real winner…the mafia, as casino gambling is expanded into living rooms and airports. Next year’s budget will bring in post office and church slot machines.

  5. Kinda hard for Wolf to still be pushing a severance tax when even the moderate GOPers say that suggesting it is a non-starter.

  6. Governor wins?? Lolol… Not a single penny of Fracking Severance Tax in there – still the ONLY fracking state without one. Weak-kneed Wolf strikes again! He should change his last name to Sheep.

  7. Governor wins, the Republicans lose. Republicans had a chance and blew it with Corbett.

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