PA Taxes

Gov. Tom Wolf presented his 2018-19 State Budget Proposal on February 6th, 2018.  The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will be posting analysis, infographics and related documents on this page as they become available. Check back often for the latest updates.

The budget plan released today by a group of Republican House members fails in the most important task before our state today: to resolve the long-term structural imbalance between expenditures and revenues. Even if every fund transfer proposed by the Republican back-benchers today were Constitutional and legal, and even if they had no impact on the commitments made by the General Assembly to provide funding for public purposes, this one-time transfer will provide almost no recurring revenues to support the state’s on-going commitments. Even if this proposal made sense, it leave us facing a deep deficit next year — one that would grow deeper every subsequent year.

Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with the support of outside advocates, are moving to announce plan to borrow massively, perhaps up to more than $2 billion, from many of the 100 or so special funds that, along with the General Fund, are part of the state budget. Their justification for doing so is that, at the end of each year, many of these funds have a surplus. So it seems easy enough to shift those surpluses – money they are quick to say is “just sitting there not doing anything” – into the General Fund.

As work on the 2017-18 budget continues, a bipartisan group of state legislators have become more vocal in their support of a severance tax on natural gas drillers. In response, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is putting on the full-court press.

In its recent letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, the Marcellus Shale Coalition points, in paragraph three, to the effective tax rate (ETR) on production as a key indicator of whether Pennsylvania should enact a severance tax in addition to the per-well impact fee we already have.

Last year at our budget summit, we said that Pennsylvania is at a crossroads and that there are two paths forward. We are still there. Pennsylvanians—and their government—are divided about which of two paths they believe our state government should follow.

One view is that the public sector—both the work of government and the work of non-profits that rely on state government funding—is essential to creating broadly shared prosperity in Pennsylvania. The other view downplays the positive role of government and public investments, and sees the taxes that pay for them as an impediment to economic growth. 

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