Senator Scott Wagner defends controversial Wolf comment

Written by Flint McColgan/York Daily Record-Sunday News | Jan 19, 2016 9:39 AM

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, left, and Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner, right. (Photo: Photo illustration by Flint McColgan composed of York Daily Record file photos.)

(Undated) -- "We had him down on the floor with our foot on his throat and we let him up. Next time, we won't let him up."

That's what state Senator Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, had to say about Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, according to a report by Politics PA on the 2016 GOP Winter Meeting in Hershey on Saturday.

On Monday, the senator confirmed he made the remark and stood by it.

"Gov. Wolf has waged war on the Republicans," he said by phone.

"I stick by the statement because this is a war between Gov. Wolf and conservative Republicans," he added. "They continue to call me an extremist/Tea Party person, but I'm just a lifelong Republican."

He said he was elected to represent the citizens of his district, which he says call on him to oppose hikes to their taxes.

Wagner said that the budget Wolf wanted included $4.5 billion in additional taxes "to fund education and all his grand ideas."

But he said what is overlooked in the debate on that tax increase is that the average Pennsylvania family of four would pay $1,425 in additional taxes a year.

Breaking that down for a hypothetical average family income, he said, would mean that a salary of $52,000, or $1,000 per week, would be about $750 per week after social security and other deductions. That tax plan, he said, would then amount to taking away two weekly pay checks.

Wolf's Press Secretary, Jeffrey Sheridan, said that "There is no place for that type of discourse in government or politics."

Sheridan then deferred to comments made by Wolf's communications director, Mark Nicastre, released in an email on Saturday with the subject "This is what we're dealing with."

Gov. Wolf has been fighting to fund our schools and eliminate the deficit, and he has made compromises on policies ranging from liquor reform to pension reform to the severance tax.

This rhetoric shows exactly what the problem is in Harrisburg and who is responsible for the extended budget impasse.

This hasn't been the first time Wagner has used fiery language to make his point. Back in July 2014, York Daily Record reporter Ed Mahon reported on what Wagner later called "an unfortunate analogy:"

            State Sen. Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said in a newspaper advertisement that the state's largest teachers union "has declared war on Pennsylvania Taxpayers."

            Wythe Keever, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, called Wagner's language offensive.

            "But it's no surprise, given his past statements," Keever said.

            The newspaper advertisement, which ran in Thursday's York Daily Record and in the York Sunday News, marks the latest battle between Wagner and public-sector unions.

            Wagner on June 4 said unions, Adolf Hitler and Russian President Vladimir Putin were all about "power and control."

            He initially defended the comment, but later said he used an unfortunate analogy.

            The next week, Wagner announced a new advertising campaign, featuring an online video.

            "I was upset because government unions are using your tax dollars to pay for their politics," he said in the video.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record

Published in News, York

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