Higher education sees mixed bag in Gov. Tom Wolf's budget

"I am pleased that the governor appears to have heeded the call of working men and women across the state in his decision to end his fight to increase broad-based taxes", Kauffman said.

They were also concerned that Wolf made no mention of pensions.

This morning, Governor Tom Wolf delivered his 2017-2018 budget address in Harrisburg.

"The truth is, the people of the Commonwealth have elected a Democratic governor and the most Republican legislature in modern history", Wolf said in his budget address.

- Increases spending through the state's main bank account to more than $32.3 billion.

"Without significant, sustained increases in funding it will be years and years before kids in underfunded districts have the resources they need - and that the new state formula acknowledges are required - for an adequate education", Feinberg said. "But we've also seen what's possible when we set aside those exhausted old fights and make Pennsylvanians' priorities our priorities".

The speech struck a notably more conciliatory tone than the one from past year, when Mr. Wolf introduced a budget while still locked in a historic impasse over his first spending proposal with Republicans who control both legislative chambers. The total general fund number is less than the bottom line Wolf had initially proposed in 2015.

"It's a reality-based budget", said lobbyist John O'Connell.

Wolf had touted the budget plan as one built on streamlining government rather than proposals rejected by Republicans to wipe out Pennsylvania's stubborn post-recession deficit with a major tax increase on sales or income.

On Tuesday, it seemed like a smart enough path.

The new budget is supposed to be in place by July 1.

"It was more solution-oriented, pragmatic, realistic".

"In many ways he has taken a page out of our playbook, for the betterment of the citizens of Pennsylvania".

And if this is a politically-inspired epiphany?




The changes would save taxpayers more than $2 billion, according to Wolf, a first-term Democrat who is up for reelection next year.

Running to Pennsylvania's roomy political middle may have benefits far beyond the consequences of the current budget debate. "I don't think anybody expects it to be pretty", said Terry Madonna, a political analyst with Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.

"Under the governor's proposal residents of Franklin County will pay more in taxes without fixing the state's broken education funding scheme or addressing our out of control pension deficit".

Governor Wolf addressed the commonwealth beginning at 11:30 am.

He is still pumping more money into public schools.

House and Senate Republicans said the administration's estimated revenues for those taxes sound too high, and they were particularly skeptical of the gas tax, which has been repeatedly defeated by GOP majorities in the past.

The new fiscal stance has been in development for awhile.

Like last year's proposal, producers would have to pay both the 6.5% tax on natural gas and the state's impact fee.

"Given the rest of the budget and the challenge that the Commonwealth is facing, we're certainly pleased that the governor recommending an increase next year", Marshall said.

While supporters say moving to $12 per hour will translate into higher incomes for 1.5 Pennsylvanians - a full quarter of the state's workforce - leaders of the business community decry a mandated payroll boost that will easily exceed $2 billion.

State police: They get three classes of new cadets plus they probably won't have to cover as much ground if many municipalities start relaying on local police forces.

Insurers' clients: Most previously exempt insurance would be taxed.

But for now, Wolf has largely co-opted a lot of the Republicans' traditional talking points.

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