Yesterday, the Wolf administration gave its annual mid-year budget briefing and, according to outgoing Budget Secretary Randy Albright, the Governor might be seeking tax increases to cover hoped-for spending increases.
In his reelection campaign, Gov. Wolf stated that he would not be seeking new tax increases in this second term in office:
“‘Who’s talking about raising taxes?’ he questioned a TV reporter last month who asked Wolf about the prospect of raising taxes this year.” (Gov. Tom Wolf puts tax plans behind him as he seeks a 2nd term, Associated Press, Marc Levy, July 1, 2018)
Later, at an address before the Pennsylvania Press Club in September, Wolf doubled-down on his comments, saying: “I’m sorry, I don’t have any plans to raise taxes.”
However, now that he has won a second term, it appears that the Governor might be having a change of heart.
According to a story from PennLive:
“Wolf’s Budget Secretary Randy Albright declined to predict whether Wolf will seek any tax increases for the upcoming budget year.” (Pa. government’s finances present good-news, bad-news picture at year’s halfway point, Charles Thompson, PennLive, December 11, 2018)
In addition to a severance tax, according to NPR affiliates, the Governor is also considering going to taxpayers for increased fees and “other things” to fund state coffers:
“Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will announce his official budget goals for next year in February, but Albright hinted the administration may consider charging fees for some state police coverage to overhaul infrastructure funding, among other things.” (Pa. lawmakers offers positive budget update, but opinions differ on what’s ahead, Katie Meyer, WHYY, December 11, 2018)
When pressed to see if the Governor would be seeking tax increases, again, Albright deferred:
“Albright declined to predict whether Wolf will seek any tax increases in the 2019-2020 budget…” (Strong revenue prompts optimistic mid-year budget projection at state Capitol, John Finnerty, CNHI Newspapers, December 11, 2018)
During his first term, Tom Wolf self-created two historic state budget impasses that threatened to shutter schools, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence shelters, among other things all the while seeking unprecedented tax hikes on everything from diapers to funeral home services.
He also failed to sign a budget until the final year of his first term.
Only time will tell, but as he’s ending his first term, Tom Wolf is setting up his second term to be a tax-hike repeat.