PA Legislature Passes $1.3B in Tax Hikes, No Severance Tax

new-taxes-ahead.jpgLast year Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf completely botched his first-ever budget, by holding out for nine months seeking a Marcellus-killing severance tax as payback to teachers’ unions that helped elect him (see PA Gov. Wolf Caves on Budget Deal After 9 Mo. of Temper Tantrums). It appears the very dense Gov. Wolf learned a lesson or two. This year he “settled” for a “modest” increase in a budget that’s $31.5 billion–a budget that does not include a severance tax on Marcellus drilling (see PA Budget Battle Continues, Marcellus Severance Tax Off the Table). On Monday, Wolf allowed the proposed $31.5 billion bloated spending plan to pass into law without his signature. However, the plan still needs an additional $1.3 billion in revenue (i.e. new taxes) in order to balance. Yes, it’s obscene that Republicans caved to such a spending plan–but it is an election year and most Republicans (and Democrats) have no ethics when it comes to handling taxpayers’ hard-earned money. A deal has just been hashed out raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, along with a new tax on digital downloads of music, books, apps and other items. Even though the spending plan includes the theft of $200 million from the state’s medical malpractice insurance fund (euphemistically called a “loan”), Wolf said he will sign the plan because it includes “sustainable, recurring revenue.” Go figure…

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