A Look At Gov. Wolf’s Policy Proposals For The 2021-22 Year
Highlights of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s policy proposals for the 2021-22 budget year that starts July 1:
— EDUCATION FUNDING: Raise the state’s personal income tax rate to 4.49% from 3.07% to generate $3 billion, most of it to boost funding for public schools. Expands exemptions so that lower-wage earners — and two-thirds of all wage earners — will pay the same or lower taxes, administration officials say. Increases aid for general public school operations and instruction by $1.35 billion for basic instruction and operations, an increase of 20%, to almost $8.2 billion.
— PANDEMIC RECOVERY: Impose a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production to underwrite billions of dollars to expand workforce development and employment assistance programs to help the state recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus. Wolf is aiming for a $4.5 billion bond to repay over 20 years.
— MARIJUANA: Legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults and tax the sale to generate aid to help small businesses recover from the pandemic and support programs to help people and communities hurt by the criminalization of marijuana. A former state auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, released an analysis in 2018 that taxing the sale of marijuana at 35% could add more than a half-billion dollars to state coffers.
— SCHOOLS: Expand a bond-funded redevelopment grant program by $1 billion and make the money available to schools for the cleanup of lead, asbestos and other environmental health hazards in school buildings, as well as to help school districts expand high-speed internet service to help educate children online. Commit $200 million to support new public school construction projects.
— HIGHER ED: Divert $200 million in revenues from a tax on slot-machine gambling that subsidizes the state’s horse racing industry to fund scholarships for students at a State System of Higher Education university if they remain in Pennsylvania for as long as they receive the benefit.