HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – It was a rare budget briefing for the media at the Governor’s Residence Monday morning.
With projector, clicker and bullet points, Governor Wolf played math professor, showing slides that he says prove the Republican budget just doesn’t add up.
“Two plus two does equal four in the real world,” Wolf said. “It has to equal four here in budgeting in Harrisburg and we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
What we’ve been doing, Wolf insists, is using gimmicks and one-time transfers to make the budget look balanced when in reality it is not. Wolf says the GOP plan is out of whack by $1.2 billion this year and closer to $3 billion next year if left unfixed.
“And you’re wondering why I’m complaining. It (GOP budget) is not honest,” Wolf sighed.
Wolf is honest when he says he wants a broad-based tax increase on income, sales or both; money that’s needed, he says, to properly balance the state’s books and steer more to schools.
Not everyone agrees.
“I think we’re spending more than we need to spend,” said Representative Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny).
Evankovich will be a ‘no’ vote when the governor’s spending plan is put to the test Wednesday in the House. Evankovich thinks the state should make do with what it’s got rather than raising taxes. If it wants to spend more in one area, it should cut from another, he believes.
“I have never heard one of my constituents advocate for broad-based tax increases to pay for government,” Evankovich said. “They all talk about spending responsibly.”
Wolf knows getting lawmakers to vote for higher taxes is a tough sell, especially when strong majorities in each chamber are Republicans. But the governor said Monday he’s appealing to their patriotism and their sense of right and duty.
“This is a once-in-a-generation vote,” Wolf said. “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here. Vote the right way.”
Professor Wolf wants to sound the alarm for Pennsylvanians and educate them to the fiscal realities of a broken budget; that it causes program cuts for social services and schools and that it leads to increased property taxes and a reduction in the state’s credit rating. He believes that once residents understand that, they’ll rally around his tax proposals.
GOP lawmakers also want to educate the public and feel that once they do the 97-day budget stalemate will come to an end.
“When the people of Pennsylvania know exactly what the governor is asking for in his taxes, when they know what his spending plan is all about, the people of Pennsylvania will help resolve this budget impasse,” Evankovich said with a sly grin, that seemed to suggest there’s no way broad-based taxes are getting through a Republican-dominated legislature.
Wolf didn’t give specifics Monday on the spending plan he’ll submit to the legislature. He said it’s due on Tuesday afternoon and will be voted Wednesday in the House. If it passes the House, it’ll get a vote in the Senate a week from Wednesday.