Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvanians will like budget compromise

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf believes most Pennsylvanians will like the spending plan he’s still working out with Republican leaders in the state legislature.

Wolf spoke to reporters Thursday at the opening of a new financial counseling center in Lancaster.

“There are some amazing, big things that are changing as a result of this framework – if we can bring it across the finish line – that I think all Pennsylvanians, on the whole, should like,” he said.

Under the proposed agreement, the state sales tax would rise to 6 percent to 7.25 percent. The money would go toward $2 billion in property tax cuts.

The spending plan Wolf unveiled in March called for a broader sales tax with an increase from 6 percent to 6.6 percent and an increase in the personal income tax from 3.07 to 3.7 percent.

“We’re going to get some property tax relief. It’s less than I wanted; it’s $2 billion rather than $3.8 billion,” Wolf said. “It’s going to be funded with sales tax rather than a combination of broadening of the base of the sales tax and a PIT (personal income tax), but it’s the first real, substantial property tax relief – if we can put this through – we’ve had in my lifetime.”

Wolf also touted the deal as delivering a record increase of $350 million for basic education this year.

“I’m getting a big increase in education funding, which is what I ran on, I’m getting some property tax relief, and I think this is going to move Pennsylvania forward,” he said.

The governor said he’s disappointed he couldn’t get a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production this year. He said he’s made it clear to Republican negotiators that he’s not giving up on the severance tax.

He said he’s still hopeful a final deal will be in place in two weeks. He said checks to school districts are being prepared and will go out immediately once the budget is final.

“I think we have a chance to get a budget by Thanksgiving,” he said. “We’re working with that deadline in mind.”

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