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Politics & Government

Election 2014 Taxes and Pensions

90.5 WESA is exploring several of the key issues being debated as part of the 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign.

Taxes and Pensions

Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf recently stated that he hopes to raise the state’s earned income tax rate while at the same time lowering property taxes. The York businessman believes “people like him,” namely the very wealthy, should pay a larger share of state taxes than those who have to subsist on less. Wolf has said his policies would lessen the burden faced by the middle class.

By taking in more revenue from income taxes, Wolf believes he can increase state spending on education even while lowering property taxes. As it stands, the state pays for one-third of the state education bill while property taxes cover 40 percent of the expenses. Under Wolf’s plan, the state would pay for 50 percent of the education budget which would reduce the burden on property tax revenues. The plan would be further subsidized by a tax on natural gas extraction.

Republican Governor Tom Corbett does not agree with Wolf’s plan. The incumbent says Wolf’s policies would be detrimental to the middle class and would put a larger burden on those who have worked hard for what they have earned. From as early as the 2010 campaign for governor, Corbett pledged to never raise taxes in Pennsylvania -- a promise he allegedly broke when he signed the state’s most recent transportation bill. If re-elected, Corbett said that he would not be able to make the same promise again.

In the end, the battle seems to be more about perspective than actual policy debate.

Corbett has also railed against Wolf for not taking seriously the state’s pension crisis. Corbett says he stood up to union efforts to keep the current system in place because the state budget forced him to take strong action -- action that his opponent says he would not be willing to take. Wolf, believes there are ways to help the state budget other than by going after unions and public pensions.