Rep. Tina Pickett (Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) joined her House colleagues in watching Gov. Tom Wolf outline his budget proposal for the 2021-22 fiscal year during a videotaped virtual address on Wednesday.
Pickett issued the following statement in reaction to the governor’s $40 billion spending plan, which includes a $7 billion tax increase:
“I cannot believe the governor is talking about a tax increase at a time like this. To tell middle-class families that you might actually raise their taxes is just beyond belief. That is not what people want to hear right now when they are having trouble paying the bills coming through the door. He is not proposing a small tax increase either. The numbers are massive and would be so damaging to anything positive we hope to accomplish in this state. So, absolutely not on his tax increases.
“Vaccine availability and distribution is the prime issue in Pennsylvania right now. So far, the program has been a bit of a failure and it reminds me of the mistakes that have plagued the unemployment compensation system since the start of the pandemic, which is so unfair to our residents.
“We need to solve it, and if that means calling in the National Guard, then that is what we should do. Students need to be back in school. Businesses need to be fully operational and growing again. It is all connected and cannot be ignored, but that is what the governor did in his budget address.
“Our small businesses in Pennsylvania have had a horrendous year, with many going bankrupt or just hanging on. We have to make it better for them. The governor’s budget proposal is certainly not going to do that. In fact, it would only hand them several more hits.”
Pickett noted that the governor’s address is just the beginning of the annual state budget process. The House Appropriations Committee will conduct a series of hearings starting Tuesday, Feb. 16, to examine the details of the governor’s plan and how state agencies are spending their funding. A schedule of the hearings is available at www.pahousegop.com.