Senator Dan Laughlin issued the following statement in regard to the Governor’s proposed $40.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which includes a $3.1 billion (8.2 percent) increase in state spending and an increase in the state personal income tax (PIT) rate from 3.07 percent to 4.49 percent (a 46.3 percent hike).
“I just listened to the Governor’s budget proposal and here are my initial thoughts. Obviously as we have more time to look through the budget with greater detail we may have more to say.
“I give the Governor credit for being bold as he just proposed an increase in overall spending of 8.2 percent after we just went through one of the worst years ever.
“Our restaurant and hospitality industry is hanging on by a thread and he proposed an immediate increase to the minimum wage. Many of us agree it needs to be raised, but not this drastically and it would no doubt finish off many of those businesses.
“Another item that I vehemently disagree with the Governor on is gutting $199 million from the Race Horse Development Fund. That fund was set up as an agreement between the legislature and the racing industry to bring casinos to Pennsylvania. We should keep our word to them. That fund is why we have horse racing at Presque Isle Downs.
“He claims his Personal Income Tax increase of 46 percent would not hurt working families, and yet over a million small businesses in Pennsylvania would see a 46 percent income tax increase because S corps and LLC’s are pass through and are taxed at that rate. The term pay their fair share is subject to who is paying?
“The Governor also wants to charge all municipalities for State Police coverage regardless of whether or not they have a municipal police force.
“The Governor and I agree that education is extremely important, but a $1.35 billion or 21.6 percent increase to the basic education line item is simply not possible, not without a massive tax increase regardless of how he spins it. The line item in the budget dedicated to funding our newly created Community College was expected since he helped create it. In a surprise to me the Governor cut the school safety and security line item by 61 percent. This will need more scrutiny.
“And I saved my biggest surprise of this budget proposal for last. The Governor flat funded our nursing homes after the incredibly difficult year in that area, I find that unconscionable.
“I am truly thankful that this is all just a proposal and needs the legislature to help craft the actual budget.”
Contact: Matt Azeles email@example.com