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WATCH LIVE: Wolf to unveil budget plan Tuesday
Interactive: Want to know what Gov. Tom Wolf says in his budget address as its happening today? The governor's office will live-stream the 11:30 a.m. address online at governor.pa.gov/live.
If you can't watch it live but are on Twitter, follow reporter Greg Gross at @ggrossyd for updates on the address and reaction throughout the day. And check out The York Dispatch online, on a mobile app or on social media — The York Dispatch on Facebook or @yorkdispatch on Twitter — for updates.
Wolf will also hold a town hall-style question and answer on Facebook starting at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Questions can be submitted now by going to Facebook.com/GovernorWolf.
Reported earlier: Exactly what Gov. Tom Wolf will say during his budget address to a joint session of the House and Senate on Tuesday remains a mystery.
But some details have been seeping out of the governor's office the past few days.
“What we're expecting to hear is a request to increase the personal income tax retroactive to Jan. 1,” said state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, adding he also expects the governor to again ask for an increased and expanded sales tax and a tax on gas drillers. “That's not going to fly in the general assembly.”
The expected request for additional funding through the tax hikes and imposing a tax on gas drillers is nearly identical to what Wolf proposed as part of the current fiscal year's budget, which still hasn't been settled.
After an unresolved fight with the Republican-controlled Legislature, the Democrat from Mount Wolf is the first governor in modern Pennsylvania history to come to this point with substantial portions of the budget for the current fiscal year still in limbo.
Spending: Wolf says he will seek an additional $200 million for public school instruction and operations next year and another $60 million in new money for pre-kindergarten programs for children of low-income parents.
The state is also facing growth in legally required pension obligation payments and Medicaid costs.
If Wolf uses the $30.8 billion plan as a baseline, a new spending plan could approach $32 billion, an approximately 4 percent increase. How to pay for it is sure to be a sticking point with tax-averse Republican lawmakers.
Wolf maintains that a tax increase of some sort is necessary to deal with a long-term deficit that has knocked Pennsylvania’s credit rating into the basement.
Wolf still wants the state government to finance reductions in local school property taxes. One big dispute between Wolf and Republican lawmakers is over which school districts should see the biggest property tax reductions from a state tax increase.
Work together: Saylor said he hopes the governor will work with the GOP majorities in the House and Senate to reach budget deals.
Two issues that will likely come into pay again as part of budget negotiations are pension and liquor reform. Republicans have long wanted to move toward a 401(k)-style pension system and to put the state-owned liquor stores into private hands. Wolf vetoed separate bills that would have done that last year when he also vetoed the GOP-crafted 2015-16 budget.
But variations of pension and liquor reform were included in a budget deal struck between Wolf, the Senate and House Democrats. That proposal died when House Republicans failed to bring the budget up for a vote late last year, prompting the Senate to send Wolf an alternative plan, which he partially vetoed.
Getting the two sides to agree on the two issues will, once again, prove to be key points in budget negotiations this time around.
“It would go a long way in getting what he (Wolf) wants,” Saylor said of the governor agreeing to the reforms.
Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, noted Wolf's three top priorities — a responsibly balanced budget, increased education funding and property tax relief — remain the same this years.
"We came close in December," Schreiber said, noting the House nearly passed a compromise budget plan. "One thing that's clear is we can't continue to govern the state with resolution after resolution, by nickels and dimes."
Before lawmakers can focus on the fiscal year 2016-17 budget, they first must take care of some unfinished business.
“We do have to deal with the 2015-16 budget before moving on to 16-17,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.