Local lawmakers react to Gov. Wolf budget proposal

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf presented the fourth budget proposal of his term Tuesday to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate.

"I can come before you today with a budget that makes the investments we need to continue our progress without any tax increases on Pennsylvania families," said Wolf. 

The plan would, though, hike spending by about $1 billion.

Some Republicans viewed the speech with a mix of satisfaction and concern.

"Speech was good, in terms of its overall message," said State Senator Pat Browne (R-16th).

But the spending worries him.

"We're finally looking like we're coming out of conversations on deficits. So now's the time to be fiscally prudent and not put that at risk," said Browne.  

State Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18th) was happy with what she heard.

"Now we're in such good fiscal health going into this budget cycle we don't have to increase taxes, we're going to pay for every service out there that we already have," she said. 

Wolf does want a new tax on natural gas.

"Ask these oil and gas behemoths to pay their fair share for extracting Pennsylvania's bountiful resources," said Gov. Wolf. 

If that tax happens, Boscola said she has some priorities. 

"You need to be aware of the pipelines coming through the Valley and dedicate some of that money to those communities that are affected by those pipelines," she told WFMZ. 

Browne said a potential tax on natural gas must not kill jobs.

"It has to be reasonable and sustainable," he said. "We have to balance any additional obligation of those companies against employment there 'cause that'll help everybody."

Both senators, meanwhile, had a lot to say about how the new federal tax law might impact the state. 

Boscola, for her part, is concerned about state and local deductions being capped at $10,000, saying she brought it up to Wolf in a meeting. 

"I told him look, you gotta get ahead of these federal tax changes and figure out how we can help Pennsylvanians maybe even by saying they can deduct their property taxes at the state income tax level," she said. 

Browne strongly criticized Wolf, accusing him of not making Pennsylvania more attractive to businesses that are flush with cash from the tax cuts and looking for states to invest in.

"The governor's response to that has been probably the worst I've seen in the country. And we are risking the prospects of having all that money pass us over," said Browne. 

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