GOP Lawmaker Says PA Budget Deficit Will Be Manageable, Guarantees Party Will Not Raise Taxes

Dec 18, 2018

Though the new legislative session doesn’t start until next month, state lawmakers are already staking out some of their key positions.

Many of those are related to the state’s finances.

A top Republican, for one, is repeating his guarantee that his party will refuse to raise any taxes or fees.

York County Representative Stan Saylor, who heads the pivotal House Appropriations Committee, noted in a new press release that returns are stronger than expected, and the state’s on track for a surplus.

So, he said, he plans to “hold the line” on new revenue-builders.

Saylor’s not too far afield from Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who has also touted strong revenues and is avoiding calls for broad-based tax hikes. And Wolf and Saylor are united in their dismissal of the Independent Fiscal Office’s revenue projections.

Spokesman Matthew Knittel predicted a deficit around a billion and a half dollars. Legislative Republicans and Democrats say that is too pessimistic.

Speaking after the administration’s budget briefing, Knittel stood by the numbers.

“We’re still comfortable with our projection of $1.7 billion,” he said. “You know, it could be a bit lower. Revenues are a little stronger. But the order of magnitude, we’re still comfortable with.”

Wolf’s budget office has highlighted challenges, including higher-than-expected human services costs.

Officials there also noted a need to restructure a funding system that routes highway money to state police. Wolf has previously suggested fees as an alternative way to pay for police.

Wolf will lay out his own plans in more detail in February.