Editorial by Representative Bryan Cutler
PA House Republican Whip
With Pennsylvania’s sole gubernatorial debate having come and gone, most people are likely wondering what statements being made are true or false. Fact checking is always an important step in the political process, which is ongoing around the Commonwealth. The governor and his campaign are highlighting as many positives that occurred during his term in office as they can. They should, as things are legitimately better today than two and three years ago.
However, it’s important for Pennsylvanians to know how these accomplishments truly came to pass.
There is no question the governor plays a role in the legislative process by either signing or vetoing a bill once it has passed both chambers of the Legislature. If the governor fails to take either action, the bill lapses into law after 10 days. All told, this governor allowed 21 bills to become law without his approval.
The 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 budgets became law over the objections of the governor, and each substantially increased the funding for our students and schools ($1.5 billion in new school funding in fact). Now, the governor is falsely claiming credit for increases in education spending over the years AND the legislative directive to deposit $22 million into the Rainy Day Fund – the first such deposit since 2006.
The facts are simple. During his term in office, Gov. Wolf’s proposed solution to all of Pennsylvania’s problems was and is to ask Pennsylvanians for more of their money. Gov. Wolf proposed tax increase after tax increase, every time soundly rejected by a majority of House Republicans and Democrats. To get those taxes, he was willing to shut down government, shut down schools, shut down rape-crisis and abuse centers, and many other important services – just re-read the articles from the “Impasse.” With his hand-picked state treasurer, he paid for some services, but not others, without any statutory authorization.
In 2015, Gov. Wolf asked for what would equal $12.5 billion in new or increased taxes on every man, woman, child and employer… he pushed for literally cradle to grave taxation. He pushed for applying the sales tax to nursing homes, college meal plans and fees, newspapers, caskets and diapers.
If his 2015 plan hadn’t been voted down in the House of Representatives by a resounding 0-193 vote, a family of four would have been paying an additional $2,500 annually to the state. That is what the “2015 Impasse” was about.
He said taxes were the only way, but House Republicans found a better way by standing up for taxpayers. This meant no broad-based tax increases on working Pennsylvanians or employers and not spending outside of our means.
Regardless of who was governor, the Legislature has prioritized education in our budget process. The Legislature increased money for our schools year after year, bringing us to today’s historic levels. The fact remains that this year’s budget is the only one with a “Tom Wolf” signature, so while his campaign can claim how much he did, Pennsylvanians should know the factual story.
The Legislature increased school dollars without major tax increases and gave Pennsylvania the ability, for the first time since 2006, to deposit a surplus into the Rainy Day Fund through controlled spending.
While Gov. Wolf allowed 21 bills to become law without his signature in just under four years (more than any other governor in nearly 40 years), The reality is, the main accomplishments of the last four years have been driven by Republicans: eliminating a deficit of more than $2 billion WITHOUT raising income or sales taxes, investing in the Rainy Day Fund for the first time in a decade, restructuring the public pension system, authorizing wine and beer sales in grocery and convenience stores, reforming the Unemployment Compensation system, instituting lobbyist reform and much more.
It is important to contrast what the governor is saying during this short campaign season with his actions in the prior three years. I am proud to work with members of both parties and all branches of government on these achievements, but the fact remains it was the House and Senate Republicans who led over the last four years.
Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans