When Gov. Tom Wolf gave his second to last budget address earlier this month, it reminded me of his first budget address when he proposed a complete overhaul of the Commonwealth’s tax structure to take more of your money to drastically increase government expenditures. I think we all recall how his 2015 budget proposal kick started a nine-month budget stalemate ending up in one of the most conservative budgets adopted under Wolf’s tenure.
Wolf’s latest budget proposal has a similar principle where he, aided by his Democratic allies, are attempting an unconstitutional tax scheme designed to make our flat income tax a progressive income tax to redistribute wealth, a hallmark of socialist policy. Fortunately for Pennsylvanians, our state Constitution bans a progressive income tax. Unfortunately, the governor and his Democratic allies do not care about our Constitution and instead are trying their best to violate it.
Under our Constitution, taxes are required to be uniform but for a few exceptions: poverty, disability, infirmity, and age. Wolf is attempting to increase tax refunds, called special provisions, designed for poverty, and increase the income threshold far behold poverty, while at the same time increase the income tax rate by 46.3% from 3.07% to 4.49%.
Every single Pennsylvanian will see his and her take home pay decrease and will feel the impact of this tax increase. The special provision Wolf is trying to manipulate is a refund program which taxpayers receive at the end of the tax year. This means every taxpayer, regardless of income, will see a 46.3% increase in his and her state tax liability. After Wolf has taken his cut, some taxpayers will get a larger tax return. Wolf and his Democratic allies disingenuously want you to believe you will be paying less in taxes. This is untrue and they know it.
Additionally, the poverty exception to the uniformity clause in our state constitution is blatantly being violated. Since 1973, the federal and state governments have used the Federal Poverty Level as a means – a tested eligibility benchmark. Comparing Wolf’s new progressive tax scheme to the Federal Poverty Level, we will see a single individual can make $64,000 a year and receive a refund, which is well above than the 400% mark of $51,520, the highest calculated rate the federal government provides, as set by the Federal Poverty Level. Any single person making $64,000 annually is by no means considered impoverished except for under the gaze of the Wolf administration. Wolf’s tax scheme goes beyond any benchmark of poverty.
As Pennsylvanian’s are still economically suffering from Wolf’s draconian economic shutdowns, now is not the time to further hurt families and small businesses. Please know that House Republicans do not support this unconstitutional tax and spend scheme. Please know that House Republicans will put forth financially sound policies to balance our budget.
I hope this clarifies how Wolf’s and his Democratic allies’ massive tax scheme will impact you. Please contact your representative and senator and ask them to oppose Wolf’s unconstitutional tax proposal.
Representative Seth Grove
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross