Governor Wolf Releases 2017-18 State Budget Proposal

Optimized-tom-wolf (1)HARRISBURG, Pa. — Could minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania really see a pay increase from $7.25 to $12 per hour?While it’s not likely to happen, Governor Tom Wolf is gunning for it as he made his 2017-18 state budget proposal Tuesday.

The state’s minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009 when the federal minimum was last changed. It is one of 20 states at that level.

Predictably, how this works depends on which side you ask.

According to a story at pennlive.com, Wolf’s office has projected that its plan – taking the current minimum up by 65 percent – would provide as many as one million Pennsylvania workers with total additional income of $3.5 billion annually.

That infusion into the economy, the administration added, would yield $33.9 million in new personal income tax collections, and an additional $61.4 million in sales tax collections.

Conversely, the Independent Fiscal Office in 2015 studied Wolf’s earlier proposal of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 and determined it could result in the loss of more than 30,000 jobs throughout Pennsylvania.

The Pa. director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Kevin Shivers, said for many of his members, raising the minimum wage means one of three bad outcomes: less income for the business owner, higher prices for consumers or less hours for staff.

Wolf is also looking to increase education spending by a large amount.

The Governor’s proposal includes the following investments:

•$65 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program and an additional $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

•An additional $9 million investment in evidence-based home visiting programs that would support 1,700 additional families.

•A $35 million increase in state funds for child care – including $10 million that will make it possible for 1,800 kids currently on state waiting lists to enroll in a child care program.

•A $100 million increase for Basic Education Funding to be driven out through the newly-enacted student-weighted formula that would increase the state’s fair share of providing basic education services to students.

•An increase of $25 million for special education funding through the enacted Special Education Funding Formula.

In regards to child welfare, the Governor’s budget allocates an increase of more than $57 million designed to meet the goals of county child welfare needs based budgets.

The Governor’s proposed budget also includes continued state funding for both the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Federal CHIP funding is currently only authorized through Sept. 30, 2017, making it a high priority for congressional action.

Wolf proposes to pay for these measure by closing tax loopholes, but said taxed will not increase.

He also proposed a fee of $25 per person for those who live in municipalities that rely on state police for their law enforcement.

Another goal is to cut nearly $2.1 billion in state expenses by merging or eliminating agencies, facilities, government jobs and tax breaks.

Wolf is also hoping to cut $50 million to school districts’ bus transportation costs because of lower fuel costs,and end a $30 million state subsidy to the University of Pennsylvania‘s veterinarian college.


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