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Governor Tom Wolf proposes 11% Tax Increase

Baker reacts with disappointment and concern

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 10, 2016

HARRISBURG – Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) expressed grave concern following the unveiling of Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2016-17 budget proposal, which again seeks to increase government spending and raise taxes on working Pennsylvanians.

“I am disappointed the governor has once again chosen to call for greater state spending supported by taxpayer dollars when it is clear from the past budget year that he has neither the legislative or public support for broad-based tax increases to happen. Pennsylvania’s working men and women have spoken loud and clear in saying they do not want any more money taken out of their paychecks to further grow state government,” said Baker.

In total, the governor is proposing a $33.3 billion budget for 2016-17, which would include an 11 percent increase in the Personal Income Tax that would be retroactive to Jan.1 of this year, along with more items included under the Sales and Use Tax and a 6.5 percent severance tax on natural gas drillers.

Included in Wolf’s budget proposal is his plan to eliminate funding for important health care line items, such as regional cancer institutes, regional poison control centers, trauma prevention, epilepsy support services, bio-tech research, ALS support services and diabetes programs.

“Our first priority as lawmakers is to see to the health and safety of the people of the Commonwealth,” said Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee. “I find it extremely concerning that the governor would choose to eliminate funding for programs such as regional cancer institutes and poison control centers. These are areas of the budget where we need to place a priority. He also vetoed various health care line items in the incomplete 2015-16 state budget, which we are still working on replacing. One of those line items is funding for critical access hospitals, such as Troy Community Hospital in Bradford County and Charles Cole Hospital in Potter County. I have legislation we are working on in the General Assembly right now to make sure this needed funding reaches these institutions so they can continue their mission of providing quality health care to our rural regions.”

Baker is also concerned with the governor’s proposed 6.5 percent severance tax on natural gas, which could be in addition to the impact fee and various business taxes the industry already pays.

“This type of tax could crush the industry before it even reaches its full potential,” said Baker. “With gas prices at record lows and many companies already scaling back and reducing their workforce, I do not think this is the time to consider such a tax.”

Baker noted that state government needs to look for better cost savings and be more prudent in its spending before looking to raise the Personal Income Tax, which would impact the financial picture for millions of Pennsylvania families.

“It looks as though this will be another challenging budget year,” said Baker. “But rest assured, I will continue to stand strong and represent the will of the people in the 68thLegislative District.”

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