Legislator claims agriculture ‘pruned’ too hard in proposal
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf today proposed a more than $33 billion dollar budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year during his address to the General Assembly. The governor’s plan includes a $1.19 billion increase in spending and is dependent on approval of a natural gas severance tax.
State Rep. Will Tallman (R-Adams/Cumberland) responded to the governor’s address, taking particular exception to the treatment of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry:
“A lot has changed since 2015, when Gov. Tom Wolf asked for what would have been the largest tax increase in state history. With today’s budget proposal, I’m glad to see he’s realized the votes don’t exist to pass a broad-based tax increase.
“A great deal has also changed in the last 12 months. When the governor last stood before the General Assembly, we were facing a deficit in excess of $1 billion. Thanks to an improving economy and the Legislature holding the line on taxes, we are now looking at a surplus of approximately $40 million and rising, thanks to the recently enacted federal tax changes.
“What hasn’t changed is the governor’s tax-and-spend approach to governing. He is renewing his effort to further tax the natural gas industry. With an economy starting to turn the corner, we should be promoting - not stifling - job growth and creation. A severance tax would further burden an industry that is already taxed in the form of an impact fee that returns money to every Pennsylvania county, even those without gas wells in them.
“Now is also not the time to go on a shopping spree, especially in a manner that exceeds the rate of inflation by about $500 million. As Pennsylvania slowly moves into ‘the black,’ the governor is opening his checkbook and spending our newly found surplus. State budgets need to mirror their counterparts in private industry in spending only existing revenue. In the past, I have proposed cutting state agencies across the board in an equal percentage in tough times. We are sent to Harrisburg to make difficult decisions when they need to be made. Choices like that are hard but necessary.
“The governor’s address didn’t mention agriculture and I don’t blame him for keeping silent. Who would want to take credit for suggesting we do away with the budget line item for agriculture research? Proposing to aggressively cut agriculture is a yearly exercise and we annually have to fight to reinstate the funding. One of Pennsylvania’s major industries and the people that work in it do not deserve to be treated this way.”
Questions about this or any legislative issue should be directed to Tallman’s district office at (717) 259-7805 or 1-877-480-9525.
Representative Will Tallman
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott Little