Time for the Governor to Compromise
By State Rep. Will Tallman
193rd Legislative District

At the recent town hall meeting state Rep. Dan Moul (R-Gettysburg) and I hosted, the nearly unanimous opinion of those in attendance was we should hold the line on taxes. This is a reflection of the telephone calls and emails I’ve received from constituents. I have heard from a handful of people who, while unhappy with the entire process, simply want my colleagues in the General Assembly and me to compromise and “get it done.” The problem is figuring out what “it” is.

On June 1, a vote was taken on the tax increases that make up Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan and are essential to fund what he wants to accomplish. This includes the much-talked about severance tax to further fund our schools, the Personal Income Tax and sales tax hikes and the expansion of sales tax to include cable television bills, diapers, day care services, funeral expenses, your garbage bill, nursing home care and many other things that are currently exempt. Not one member of the House, Democrat or Republican, supported the amendment to House Bill 283.

Some people who follow politics have labeled that vote a “gimmick.” I could not disagree more. As part of the budget process, a member of the General Assembly who endorses Wolf’s tax plan will need to offer a bill that provides the details. A representative from Allegheny County began the process in May but never formally introduced the legislation. If we even wanted to vote it, we couldn’t because the bill doesn’t have a number. A state senator from Philadelphia has tried to do the same, but none of his colleagues – even Democrats – have signed on to support his Senate Bill 117. Believing the Wolf plan even has enough Democrat votes to pass is the real gimmick.

Where does that leave us? The governor made history by vetoing the entire budget that was sent to him June 30. On Aug. 19, House Republicans compromised and met his offer of a $400 million increase (the initial offer was a $100 million) in support for public education, in exchange for pension reform that will allow even more money to flow into the classroom. After four weeks, he rejected the proposal last Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, a vote was taken to send money to critical service providers such as domestic violence and rape crisis centers, as well as allow our schools to access federal funds that must pass through state government channels. The vote failed because it lacked a necessary two-thirds majority vote. With every House Republican voting for it, the measure needed Democrat support and received none.

This Friday, the House is expected to pass the stopgap budget endorsed by the Senate last week. Schools and essential services will be funded until a final budget agreement can be reached. The governor has already said he will veto it. I’d like nothing more than to see him change his mind and render my writing somewhat invalid, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

The June 1 vote, coupled with the lack of support for the legislation necessary to fund the type of budget the governor wants, forces me to draw the conclusion that Wolf is on an island by himself. He’s flying solo in fighting for what would be a package of historic tax increases at a time when our economy is struggling to recover.

I’ve heard it said the governor has a mandate and the General Assembly must carry out his wishes. My colleagues and I can also claim the mandate of being sent to Harrisburg by the majority of residents in our districts. Speaking for me, the overwhelming voice I hear is one which wants me to oppose these tax increases. That is from where I draw support for my opinion.

Wolf said no to a June 30 budget, saw his Democrat colleagues in the House defeat the August attempt to override that veto and is apparently on the verge of turning aside a similar effort when the stopgap budget hits his desk Friday. With lack of support for his plan, it is Gov. Wolf’s turn to compromise and come to the table with something someone will get behind that has the necessary votes to pass both the House and Senate before being sent to his desk. Pennsylvania is waiting on him.

Representative Will Tallman
193rd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott Little
RepWillTallman.com / Facebook.com/RepTallman