– State Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) issued the following statement on the heels of Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021-22 budget proposal, which calls for an increase in the Personal Income Tax (PIT) and continued pursuit of a severance tax as part of a more than $40 billion spending plan:
“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I need to remind everyone that this is merely the beginning of the process. On Tuesday, Feb. 16, the committee will hold the first of a series of budget hearings that are intended to drill down deeper into the governor’s proposal and ask the tough questions.
“My initial reaction is to call this a spending plan rather than a budget plan. He has proposed billions of dollars in additional spending at a time when our economy is struggling to survive because of COVID-19. Unemployment rates are high and too many Pennsylvanians aren’t even collecting unemployment, so a number of the governor’s proposals really don’t make any sense to me right now.
“The governor revisited some of his past failed initiatives, such as municipal funding for Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) services, a drastic increase in the minimum wage, and a severance tax on the natural gas industry. I support adequate pay for workers and funding our vital PSP services, but we have to acknowledge that as proposed, his measures will force municipalities to increase taxes and business owners to increase costs of goods and services.
“A new tax on our natural gas industry, especially when coupled with the governor’s push for RGGI, will cripple our status as the country’s top energy-exporting state and put more jobs in jeopardy. We need new revenue sources, but the way to get there isn’t to single out one industry to shoulder the burden, nor to ask for more from our small business owners and residents at a time when they are fighting to put food on their own tables.
“There is some good in the governor’s spending plan, but most of what I heard frustrated me. He recognizes our problems but only wants to ‘throw money at them.’ Increasing funding for education without a plan to make improvements does not address the root of the challenges our schools and teachers are facing. In addition, executing that investment through an increase in the PIT hits taxpayers when they’re struggling. The governor is also depending on an unreliable revenue source because our population is on the decline. Pennsylvania is business ‘unfriendly’ enough as it is, and raising the PIT removes one of the few things that makes our state even slightly appealing for young workers to want to relocate here.
“Again, this is a merely a stepping-off point. The committee and the governor’s office must work together to do what’s best for all Pennsylvanians. Taxpayers should not be regarded as a blank check or an unlimited line of credit. The pandemic is negatively impacting our ability to deliver necessary services. Right now, we’re having difficulty executing both a vaccine distribution plan and an unemployment compensation system.
“Instead of placing a further burden on taxpayers, why not look to efforts that encourage business growth and the availability of jobs through real tax reform and less stringent regulations that encourage entrepreneurial spirit and brighten our future? Simply put, asking our citizens to pay more while state government is essentially providing less is an unjustifiable request.”
Questions about this or any legislative issue should be directed to Struzzi‘s district office at 1-724-465-0220.
Representative Jim Struzzi
62nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137 (office), 717.497.5937 (cell)