Pa. Gov. Wolf launches a budget fraught with deficits, uncertainty

Pennsylvania

Wolf, a Democrat, is asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to increase the personal income tax to raise money for schools

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/WKBN) — Gov. Tom Wolf is asking lawmakers to raise income taxes on higher earners and give public schools a massive boost in aid, even as he faces a gaping deficit and uncertainty over how much more pandemic relief the federal government will send.

Because of the pandemic, Wolf delivered his annual budget address Wednesday to lawmakers by a pre-recorded video.

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Wolf, a Democrat, is asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to increase the personal income tax to raise $4 billion over a full-year or about 25% more. The cash would go to public schools and help fill a multibillion-dollar deficit inflicted by the pandemic.

“If your local school system lacks the resources it needs to provide your kids with a quality education, that’s a barrier,” Wolf said.

The Governor mentioned that he wants to give a tax cut to families making less than $84,000 a year, saying people who make more should be taxed more.

“We need to stop asking working families to pay the same rate my family does,” Wolf said.

He also plans to cut taxes to Pennsylvania businesses by 25%, with a long-term plan to raise the minimum wage to cover what he calls “basic necessities.”

“That’s why we should immediately raise the minimum wage with a clear path to get it to $15 per hour as quickly as possible,’ Wolf said.

Mark Di Lorenzo of Di Lorenzo’s Specialty Deli, Bakery and Catering, said he is all in favor of a tax cut, but not the $15 minimum wage. He said it would destroy businesses if that happens.

Wolf is asking for both parties to approve the budget.

“There’s not a reason why we can’t work together, Democrats or Republicans, to pass these initiatives,” Wolf said.

In an official statement from the state’s GOP, they said “new taxes and job-killing policies are not what voters had in mind.”

Sharon Schools Superintendent Michael Calla said he should have a better idea in the next few days on how the governor’s policies would impact the district.

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