PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In advance of his budget address to the State Legislature next Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf is thinking big — very big.
“My budget will contain significant reforms aimed at three goals for economic development that will create good paying jobs, middle class jobs, family-sustaining jobs and building a pro-growth business climate for Pennsylvania,” the governor said in Bethlehem on Wednesday morning.
While details are still under wraps, the governor has said he wants to cut in half the state’s business income tax.
“This should be a signal that we are open for business in Pennsylvania,” he said.
What the governor has not said — but what sources tell KDKA — is that he will also propose a dramatic reduction in property taxes.
Wolf ran on a platform to reform school property taxes, and sources tell KDKA that part of his big plan budget is to cut school property taxes in half by 50 percent.
But then the issue is — how do you pay for that?
Three tax hikes are under consideration to pay for property tax cuts and more education funding and to solve the state’s budget mess once and for all.
To pay for a 50 percent cut in both business taxes and school property taxes, Wolf will ask for a 5 percent severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, an increase in the state sales tax from 6 to 6.6 percent while expanding the sales tax to cover clothing and professional services, and a one percent hike in the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.07 percent.
“He’s absolutely going big, and he’s going for broke,” says Harrisburg lobbyist Nello Giorgetti, an attorney with Cohen & Grigsby. “I guess he figures he has nothing to lose, and this is what he believes will solve the problems of Pennsylvania for quite some time to come.”
Of course, it requires legislative support from Republicans who control the Legislature.
That means, says Point Park University Prof. Ed Meena, “Wheeling and dealing in the Pennsylvania definition of the phrase.”
And there’s nothing new about that.