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Gov. Wolf Could Force Schools to Close
By State Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
We are now at the end of March and only three months away from the end of the fiscal year. We have a definitive amount of revenue for this year’s state budget. This amount has been confirmed by the Department of Revenue and there is no time left to consider, or support for, a tax hike-- let alone one that would be retroactive.

With this in mind, the General Assembly passed House Bill 1801 which provides supplemental appropriations to close out the 2015-16 budget. It restores Gov. Tom Wolf’s line item veto to basic education, agriculture and corrections funding which he executed in December 2015. This legislation passed by a bipartisan vote of 128 to 63. This compromise supplemental budget is the end of the line for the fiscal year 2015-16 budget discussion.

Under this legislation, the total state investment in basic education increases by $200 million over last year, to a record $10.74 billion dollars. The only thing that will be accomplished by a veto to this bill is the closing of some public schools. I do not believe this is an outcome that the majority of Pennsylvanians want.

House Bill 1801 represents a compromise, as it includes more than 50 percent of the additional education funding that the governor had asked for. Most importantly, it accomplishes this without raising taxes. In order for the governor to pay for everything he wants, he would have to raise the personal income tax by over 10 percent. Worse yet, he would have to apply that tax increase retroactively, taking more of the money that you have already earned. Under his proposal, he would take additional taxes from money you earned starting on January 1 of this year.

The governor needs to abandon his hopes of raising taxes during this fiscal year. He should sign this compromise supplemental budget to drive out funds to schools that are in need. If he vetoes this legislation, he will be the one held responsible for the consequences including any school shutdowns. It is time to put the arguments of the past year behind us and start fresh on negotiating a compromise for next year’s budget.

Representative Steven Mentzer
97th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Eric Reath
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