HARRISBURG, March 3, 2015 – In response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s just-proposed $29.8 billion budget for 2015-2016, state Sen. John Blake said he is looking forward to studying the details of the newly elected Democrat’s proposal.
“For four years, failed leadership in this state had us falling behind as our neighboring states invested in education and job growth and where they demonstrated a commitment to working-class citizens by raising the minimum wage,” Blake said following the governor’s budget address before a joint session of the General Assembly. “Gov. Wolf demonstrated today a necessary and a positive change-in-course for Pennsylvania.”
If enacted by the legislature, the governor’s budget would deliver $3.8 billion in property tax relief, restore the $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett cut from basic education, inject $1.75 billion for job creation and restore critically important social safety net programs.
In other words, according to Sen. Blake, Gov. Wolf is proposing what Senate Democrats have been championing since 2011.
“Four years of Republican trickledown economics have decimated our economy, our schools and our communities,” he said. “Major tax breaks to big business have failed to translate to jobs and we plummeted from eighth to 50th in job growth in four years. What remains is a structural deficit of more than $2 billion.
“The Corbett administration’s decision nine months ago to use gimmicks and one-time money transfers to plug last year’s deficit means the commonwealth cupboard is bare,” Blake said.
Under Gov. Wolf’s proposal, Pennsylvania would be able to cover the current deficit and increase spending by a moderate 2.7 percent through fair adjustments in our state’s tax policy, including the imposition of a new severance tax on the natural gas industry.
Blake also noted Gov. Wolf’s proposals to make important and necessary cuts in business taxes, including a significant reduction of the corporate net income tax and phasing out the regressive capital stock and franchise tax.
The governor also called for an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
“We have to fix the mess we’re in and it will take bold, decisive, comprehensive and necessary action. Simply treading water and making another set of bad short-term decisions is not acceptable,” Sen. Blake said. “We need to re-think our state’s position in the global economy and advance a spending plan that not only guarantees the quality of life for our citizens now but assures growth and prosperity for generations to come in this great commonwealth.”
Blake said he is looking forward to better understanding how the governor’s proposals and new policy initiatives will affect residents of his 22nd Senatorial District.
“I look forward to adding value in the negotiations for a balanced budget by June 30. Again, none of the choices we face are easy and nothing is free. We will need to balance the needs and concerns of a diverse state but the governor has boldly mapped a promising future. It is up to the General Assembly to find the way forward using his map,” Blake said.