HARRISBURG – Senator Mastriano provided the following statement after Governor Wolf’s final budget address to the General Assembly today:
“Governor Wolf’s latest attempt to save the legacy of his failed Governorship has once again missed the mark. He bragged about being a fiscal steward and the state’s current surplus. He neglected to mention the surplus is mainly due to the influx of funds we received from the federal government. The only reason we are not in a deficit is because Republicans held the line on Wolf’s reckless spending requests over the past 7 years.
“Wolf bragged about job creation under his tenure while we currently have the 11th worst unemployment rate in the United States. He also talked about cutting the prison population by 11,000. We see the disastrous results of that with the spike in violent crime in our metropolitan areas.
“In a desperate attempt to save his legacy, Governor Wolf is intending to use billions in primarily federal funds to grow spending in Harrisburg. His proposed budget represents a 10.9% increase in spending. According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, that will produce a $1.3 billion deficit for FY 2023-24 and a $13 billion deficit by FY 2026-27.
“When it comes to education, Wolf is proposing a 23% increase in basic education spending with little to no accountability or ties to performance-based metrics for public schools who will receive that money.
He’s also proposing a significant increase in spending on universities; many of which already receive exorbitant funding but end up spending those funds on out-of-control administrative costs. While he props up public education spending, he seeks to cut funding for Charter schools by $373 million.
“An alternate budget proposal would reign in unaccountable spending. Instead of using an influx of federal funds for Wolf’s final year wish list, we should be focusing on building up our reserve funds so that we can cut taxes. That way our citizens can keep more of their hard-earned money. We need to eliminate property taxes on homeowners and slash the gas tax. To do that, we need to control our spending.
“We also need to rethink how we fund education in Pennsylvania. Instead of continuing to fund failing systems, lets redirect funding to follow the students. We should focus on expanding the successful EITC and OSTC scholarship programs and establish Education Opportunity Accounts to allow parents to have direct funding for tuition at a school of their choice.
“I will only support a budget this Spring that gets the government off our backs and out of our wallets.”
Contact: Josh Herman