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(HARRISBURG) – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) said that he will be carefully reviewing the 2017-2018 state budget announced today by Governor Tom Wolf.

“Today we heard a very different budget proposal from Governor Wolf than we have heard in his prior budget addresses,” Scarnati stated.  “In previous years the Governor pushed for massive tax increases – but this year he is proposing significant cuts within state government.  I look forward to reviewing the details of the Governor’s proposal over the coming weeks, as the Legislature engages in a thorough review of his proposal during Appropriations Committee budget hearings.”

Scarnati noted that on February 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin the process of reviewing the Governor’s budget proposal during three weeks of budget hearings.

While the Governor is not looking for broad-based tax increases, Scarnati expressed concern that his plan does include $1 billion in new taxes.  These tax increases include new taxes on natural gas, custom programming, design and data processing, commercial storage, airline purchases and aircraft sales.  The budget plan also contains many proposals funded by one-time revenues, while failing to address substantial cost-drivers, including skyrocketing pension costs and long-term spending.

The Governor’s 2017-2018 budget proposes total spending of $32.337 billion, which is an increase of $571.5 million or, 1.8 percent, above the current spending.  A portion of the savings in Governor Wolf’s proposed budget comes from the consolidation of the departments of Aging, Health, Human Services and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a single entity. It is unclear how the departments would be merged, the number of positions that would be eliminated and the programs and services that would be impacted.

“We need to look not just at consolidation, but more importantly we need to examine ways to reform policies and how we spend money,” Scarnati said.  “Senate Republicans will remain strong advocates for fiscal responsibility, and continue to prioritize the process of finding government efficiencies.” 

CONTACT: Kate Eckhart   keckhart@pasen.gov (717) 787-7084