State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Another bad revenue report as GOP counts heads

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 2, 2014 3:49 PM
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Photo by G.R. Wilson


Pennsylvania tax collections last month fell short by about $108 million, or five and a half percent.

The report wasn't unexpected, but still came as unwelcome news for state lawmakers facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. Less than a month remains to hammer out a spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Republicans, who control the General Assembly, still aren't sure how they'll bridge the gap.

The state Senate Appropriations chairman, Jake Corman (R-Centre) said the governor is still trying to rely on spending cuts and one-time fixes, like transfers from various funds into the main state budget.

"No recurring revenues - no tax increases of any kind - have been proposed as of yet," Corman said.

But Democrats said they've heard something less categorical from the administration.

"The directive that we heard from the administration was that the only revenue enhancements that were off the table were the personal income tax and the sales tax," said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Jay Costa. "Everything else is on the table."

Democrats continue to push for a natural gas extraction tax, and they're also calling for other revenue generators, like boosting the tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

"Those two seem to be getting traction around the Capitol," said Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), the caucus whip.

Republicans are expected to spend this week going over budget proposals without new revenues. Democrats, for now, aren't in on those talks.

"They gotta come up with an ask," said Williams. "They're gonna say, 'We need X number of votes based upon this proposal. They don't even have a proposal... they haven't done their own head count."

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