HARRISBURG – Sen. Michele Brooks said Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address today finds many areas of common ground, but renews the debate about the severance tax, cuts to agriculture, and a proposed $25 per-capita fee on communities that rely on the State Police for coverage.
As chair of the Senate’s Aging and Youth Committee and vice-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, Brooks said she was pleased that the governor did not renew his call to merge the Department of Aging with other health and human service departments, nor has he revisited his call to close additional state correctional institutions. However, she found it alarming that the governor called for the elimination of funding for behavioral health care for veterans, and he continued his practice of zeroing out many agricultural line-items.
Brooks has been a strong advocate for rural Pennsylvania, and has opposed the proposed fee on State Police coverage as an unfair penalty on small, rural communities.
“This proposal increases fees, but would not provide additional coverage for residents,” Brooks pointed out.
She was also encouraged to hear that the governor agreed with the need to invest in career and technical education for our workforce, but disappointed that there was no mention of Pennsylvania’s No. 1 industry, agriculture, which sustained significant cuts in the governor’s proposed budget.
Reacting to the governor’s continued call for a severance tax, Brooks said, “I want to draw attention to the fact that Pennsylvania already has an impact fee that significantly invests back into our local communities. Our local counties alone received over half a million dollars from the impact fee in 2016.”
“Although the governor maintains that the severance tax would not be passed on to residents, citizens should take heed that something similar was said about the gas tax years ago and we are all paying more at the pump.”
“I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to find common ground, and I welcome input from the families and communities I serve in the months ahead.”
“This is only the first chapter,” Brooks said. “Budget hearings begin Feb. 20. Work on the new budget is just beginning, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to craft a responsible, on-time budget which includes a pro-growth, pro-job approach.”
Contact: Diane McNaughton (717) 787-1322 firstname.lastname@example.org