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Politics & Government

What's the Real Total of Governor Tom Wolf's Budget?

Mary Wilson
90.5 WESA

The tax shifts and additional spending proposed in Governor Tom Wolf's first budget are enough to keep state lawmakers arguing for weeks.

But, just days after the unveiling of his proposal, they can't even agree on how much the budget spends.

Wolf calls it a $29.9 billion budget.

But Republicans, including Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne of Lehigh County, say it's more like a $33.7 billion plan, once you account for the billions being put into special funds to pay for pension costs and proposed property tax relief.

"Really, it's an accounting move. There's really no substance to it other than...he's setting a benchmark to say that we're setting aside so we make the payments... it's a reclass, we're still servicing those payments through general fund receipts," he says.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) says the state budget, historically, has lots of special accounts that aren't included in the final figure.

"To say that we're moving things offline to deceive people is inappropriate is really not the case," he says. "It's really not. We have a ton of stuff offline."

Lawmakers also use different figures to refer to Wolf's proposed tax package.

It comes to more than $4 billion.

But the administration says that drops to $2.5 billion when accounting for Wolf's property tax relief plan.