Magic Wolf Claims Spending Cut With Higher Budget

Magic Wolf Claims Spending Cut With Higher Budget

By Leo Knepper

Magic Wolf Claims Spending Cut With Higher Budget By Leo Knepper
Magic man says he’s cutting while adding.

On Feb. 7, Gov. Wolf gave his latest budget address. Since he has his eye on re-election, this was the Governor’s most realistic budget to date. There are still a lot of problems with what he’s asking for, but it’s much less terrible that what he has wanted in the past.

 

For starters, Wolf acknowledges that there is room to cut spending and this is a step in the right direction. The problem arises when we look “under the hood, ” and then the cuts disappear. The state budget is made up of several different parts: the general fund, special funds, federal funds, and other funds. These various parts all add up to give us the total operating budget. The current year’s total operating budget is $80.1 billion. In his budget address, Gov. Wolf notes that there will be a $3 billion deficit next year. He purportedly solves the problem with $2 billion in spending cuts and “savings initiatives” and increases taxes by $1 billion to make up the difference.

Let’s direct our attention to Gov. Wolf’s spending “cuts.” If the current budget is $80.1 billion and the Governor’s proposed budget cuts $2 billion in spending, the proposed budget should be $78.1 billion. Here is where the magical math comes into play. Instead of being $78.1 billion, the Governor’s proposed budget is $81 billion, an increase in spending of nearly $900 million. How does a $2 billion cut turn into a $900 million spending increase?

The purported spending cuts turn into a spending increase due to “baseline budgeting.” In baseline budgeting, the previous year’s budget is the starting point and the next budget increases from that point by a certain percentage. In other words, politicians like Gov. Wolf can claim they are cutting spending, but in reality, they are only increasing it by a smaller percentage than they wanted. It’s the equivalent of Orwellian newspeak. Gov. Wolf and others rely on the ignorance of taxpayers to get away with it.

If the Commonwealth spent $2 billion less next year than they are this year, then there wouldn’t be any need to discuss tax increases. Please, contact Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly immediately. Tell them that cutting spending means cutting spending and not making it grow more slowly.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Magic Wolf Claims Spending Cut With Higher Budget

Wolf Wants $1 Billion In New Taxes Says CF

Wolf Wants $1 Billion In New Taxes Says CF
$1 Billion’s not much if it’s not my money.

Wolf Wants $1 Billion In New Taxes Says CF — Nathan Benefield of Commonwealth Foundation notes that the budget Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled yesterday, Feb. 7, would raise living expenses by $315 for a family of four.

This is because that Wolf wants to expand the sales tax to several business services and add a 6.5 percent natural gas severance tax, which is an extremely foolish idea.

The bottom line is that Wolf wants a billion dollars more in taxes.

There is no need for this. Pennsylvania’s expenses are bloated and can be easily cut. While Wolf gives lip service to doing so, he rejects simple yet effective solutions such as public pension reform, or the repeal of the prevailing wage law that adds 20 percent to the cost of almost all public projects.

Or once again forbidding teacher strikes that cause the cost of school taxes to rise far above the rate of inflation.

There is not even consideration for small but real money-saving things such as ending the mandate to pay old media for carrying public notices which is something that can be cheaply handled by all government bodies via the web, and be far more useful to citizens than the existing standard.

Pennsylvania voters have to make it a point to reject leaders whose loyalty lies with the special interests and governing class, and not them.

Wolf Wants $1 Billion In New Taxes Says CF