Governor Tom Wolf is staking out his major pushes ahead of the June 30th deadline.
Wolf is pushing for his proposed severance tax and closing tax loopholes to close the almost $2 billion deficit the state is facing for the 2017-2018 budget.
“In February, I presented a budget that closed the deficit and protected investments in schools, seniors and fighting the heroin epidemic. This proposal included more than $2 billion in cuts, savings, and efficiencies and $1 billion from a severance tax and closing loopholes, and investments in education and the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Wolf said in a statement outlining his priorities.
Wolf has been pushing for a severance tax since he ran for Governor in 2014.
Update: Some Republicans see the severance tax as a possibility. State Senator John Eichelberger opened the door to a severance tax at a Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Wolf continues to face strong opposition to a severance tax in both the House and the Senate, where Republicans have large majorities.
“We always look at asset management, we always look at funds that are available within state government. Obviously, we aren’t looking at any new taxes, so we’ve got to look within and see what we can do to maximize our abilities with the assets that we have,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) told PLS Reporter.
Wolf also took aim at the House GOP’s budget that passed the House in April.
The release said the the House GOP budget balanced by making “indiscriminate, devastating cuts to programs like job training, school safety, child care, and mental health and substance use treatment.”
The House budget was $810 million less than Wolf’s proposal, contained an increase in money to the general education fund.
PoliticsPA has reached out to the House GOP for comment.
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When the gas pipelines are completed and they will be, the Berks County portions are already under construction, imagine all of the Pennsylvania shale gas that will be exported from Philadelphia to Europe and elsewhere, and it will be a considerable amount. It is ludicrous to think that there could possibly be no extraction tax on that exported shale gas. Pennsylvania consumers all ready pay extraction taxes to other states.
He is the most liberal governor in the history of PA. He is trying to play us all as a moderate blue nose dem right now. We will not be fooled. This race will be determined on who makes it out of the Republican side. If it is Scott Wagner, I fear that Momma’s Boy Tom, yaknow the guy who hasn’t actually done anything in his life and has survived off of the accomplishments of his parents, will stay governor. If Barletta, Kelly or Mango make it? Republicans have a chance.
More liberal than Ed Rendell? In what way is he more liberal? He is determined to give a good screwing to the public sector unions, so how does that make him the “most liberal”? Corbett tried to cut his way out of a deficit copying Kansas and Oklahoma, how did that turn out?
Our governor is Thomas the Tax Engine. Time for change.
Please support Scott Wagner for Governor.
Stupid to the end.
The Gov. is trying to combine four agencies into one to downsize State government and somehow the Republicans are against this?
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Tom Wolf: It’s VERY SIMPLE –
No severance tax, no drilling, pipelines or extraction. Period.
The DEP and the Health Depts could/should shut down the fracking as a public health violation as it is. Any serious testing of the surrounding environment and polluted water would justify a complete moratorium.
Wolf, if you wouldn’t drink local tap and well water near these sites, or eat locally grown food from contaminated meat/produce, then why would you allow the sites to operate?
I get that you will sell out the health/safety of the public for the severance tax, but don’t sell them out with nothing to show for it.
Remember, NY used the horrible conditions in PA to justify their own moratorium.
So, grow a spine and use ALL your powers as governor to shut down fracking, pipelines, etc until there is a severance tax.
Or, you could get AG Joshy to raid the drilling sites and test the workers for meth and other drugs, or bring out the drug sniffing dogs. I’ve heard that drug use and prostitution are pretty common among the workers, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find violations of the law (beyond polluting the environment).
I am in favor of a severance tax, but you overestimate the power the Governor has here and seem to assume that a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly would not quickly appear to plug whatever loopholes the Governor might find that would allow such drastic action. The impact fee has benefited a lot of communities and they would be mighty upset if that spigot suddenly were to be shut off. Furthermore, retracting legally issued permits without cause would quickly get shut down by the Environmental Hearing Board and the courts.
The better course of action is to negotiate with the General Assembly, which is presumably going on now, and, if you cannot come to an agreement, try to elect more people who are in favor of a severance tax.
Taking actions like you suggest would almost certainly backfire in a big way, damaging the Governor and hobbling him going into the re-elect, basically ensuring we end up with another industry supplicant in the Governor’s Office.
The AG might be able to get away with some of that stuff, though I am not sure if he would have jurisdiction or not.
“the power the Governor has”
1) He’s signed approvals for drilling permits. He can certainly stop signing new ones or approving more related permits.
2) I would put the severance taxes on-top-of the impact fees.
3) There is a “cause” to retract the permits: the detrimental health effects of the people near the drilling sites. Wolf has the authority to declare emergencies or stop harmful effects in the name of public safety (and people have been complaining, so he could act on their complaints and halt activities pending an investing).
4) Wolf is already self-hobbled by his failure to stand up to the GOP and play hard-ball. The political insiders I talk to refer to him as a gutless, entitled wimp who is clueless politically and doesn’t care about legislation or anything beyond taking care of his and Rendell’s friends.
5) The AG seems to have a press conference every time they arrest more than two drug dealers at once. The use of drugs and prostitution at the fracking sites seems to be common knowledge (and possibility with the aid of the drilling companies). This is very similar to the background plot in Robocop with Omnicorp wanting to profit from the construction business and the drug/prostitution trade tied to it.
The AG’s office could certainly investigate the supply chain surrounding drilling sites.
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