Gov. Wolf’s Budget Address – On Tuesday,
Gov. Tom Wolf issued his budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year to
the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The governor’s presentation of his
proposed $32.34 billion spending plan is the first step in the state’s
I am very glad that we have the
opportunity to open a conversation with our colleagues in the
Legislature and Gov. Wolf to determine the right path forward for
Pennsylvania’s budget. In his address, the governor gave us a good point
from which to begin the negotiation process. We will now have the
opportunity to analyze his proposals and offer our own suggestions for
ways to better manage the size and price tag associated with state
I applaud Gov. Wolf for not
proposing broad-based tax hikes on hard-working Pennsylvanians through
the Personal Income and Sales and Use taxes. There are, however, some
troublesome items included in his plan that are a cause for concern,
such as the 6.5 percent energy tax proposal that will increase
unemployment in our area and is simply not a dependable source of
revenue as our economy cannot support it.
The upcoming House Appropriations
Committee hearings will hopefully result in the discovery of additional
cost-saving measures we can use to balance the 2017-18 budget. I’m
looking forward to bringing positive ideas to the table and having a
hand in crafting a spending plan that moves Pennsylvania forward and
grows our economy, not the size and scope of state government.
Enhancing Educational Opportunities
– Legislation I am co-sponsoring that would enhance educational
opportunities by allowing families to better choose the educational
paths for their children was passed this week by the House Education
House Bill 250
would increase the amount of tax credits available under the
Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $50 million (to
$175 million) and the amount of tax credits available under the
Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $25 million (to $75
Both programs are proven successes
in the ability for private entities to donate toward approved
scholarship programs. The EITC program targets scholarship
organizations, educational improvement organizations, and
pre-kindergarten scholarship programs, while the OSTC program dedicates
tax credits toward businesses that contribute to scholarship programs
aimed specifically at students trapped in underperforming schools.
While the General Assembly
constantly seeks to improve academic outcomes for all children, the OSTC
program provides critical educational opportunities for students who
desperately need the chance to succeed.
Attention Outdoor Enthusiasts
– This coming week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC)
and Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) will testify before the House
Game and Fisheries Committee. The subject will be their annual reports
and issues pertinent to both commissions.
You can watch the meetings (PFBC on Tuesday, Feb. 14; PGC on Wednesday, Feb. 15) on my website, www.RepGabler.com, beginning at 9:30 a.m. each day.
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