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Last week Republican leaders presented the Governor with an alternative budget proposal. Below are my thoughts on the matter. You can also find a report on my recent Telephone Town Hall and an overview of a hearing held in York on combatting the heroin epidemic.
As always, I welcome your feedback and input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website.
Scott R. Wagner
In this Edition:
Update on Budget Impasse
Nearly two months after Gov. Wolf vetoed a balanced, no-tax-increase budget, setting off a budget showdown, Republican leaders from the Senate and House presented a counter-proposal to the Governor.
Under the offer, the budget would spend an additional $400 million on basic education, which the Governor demanded, and the Governor would accept a modified version of the pension reform plan passed by the General Assembly, with consideration of privatizing the state liquor store system to generate some of the additional revenue.
At this point, there are very few details, and there are still a lot of issues that would have to be worked out. That being said, I have two primary concerns with what was presented.
First, I have stated repeatedly that I will not support more money for schools unless something is done with regard to costs. Pensions are a driving factor behind skyrocketing costs for our schools, and while real pension reform similar to SB 1 would go a long way toward reigning in future pension costs, it is not the final answer. I would like to see major reforms to our education system implemented before we provide it with $400 million in additional funding.
My second concern is in regard to where the additional $400 million would come from. My mantra since I arrived in Harrisburg has been that we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. I don’t see how I could in good conscience vote to raise taxes on working families until I was certain that we are maximizing the value of every tax dollar that we already receive.
I do, however, think that it is important to note that this whole process is a negotiation. Republican leadership offered Wolf the one item he has claimed to want more than any other, and they want to trade it for two very substantive issues that the people of Pennsylvania have wanted for years: pension reform and liquor privatization.
At the time of writing this, the Governor had not yet responded to the offer, although I am doubtful he will agree to it.
Thanks to All Who Took Part in Telephone Town Hall
My Tele Town Hall last Tuesday evening was a great success, with nearly 4,000 constituents taking part for at least a portion of the event.
Participants weighed in on four survey questions:
Like always with these calls, I had great conversations with several people. Property taxes are always a hot topic, as was the Governor’s veto of the budget, pension reform, education funding, and school consolidation. Unfortunately, not everyone got through to have their question answered, but my staff and I are following up with each individual to make sure they receive an answer.
These events are a great way to share my views directly with constituents and to gauge your opinion on various issues. Thank you to everyone who took the time to be part of this most recent call.
York Hosts Latest Hearing on Combatting PA Heroin Epidemic
I joined The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, chaired by Senator Gene Yaw, on Tuesday for the last of three public hearings held statewide on heroin and opioid addiction treatment and recovery. Held at the Yorktowne Hotel in York, the hearing featured input from treatment and recovery specialists, health care professionals, state officials, and law enforcement officials, including several of my fellow members of the York County Heroin Task Force.
Among the information shared:
You can view the hearing here.