Five and a half weeks ago, Governor Wolf and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania House and Senate announced a bi-partisan “budget framework” designed to end the long impasse over the budget. The framework agreement, like most compromises between parties that are far apart, pleased no one. But it provided enough to satisfy everyone.
Or so we thought. In the last two weeks, the House Republicans have backed away from the bi-partisan agreement. In the last two days, Speaker Turzai has been demanding that someone else — the Governor or the House Democrats—come up with the votes to enact the tax revenues that are a necessary part of the budget framework. As I write, efforts are continuing to find those votes, most of which in the House are going to come from Democrats.
Speaker Turzai, it appears, won’t lead in support of the budget framework, won’t follow it, and, won’t get out of the way. This is no way to run a government. Or as Capitolwire’s Chris Comisac observed, we need “more grown-ups in the state Capitol.”
Despite our own misgivings about the framework agreement, we have been urging our supporters and coalition members to call Representatives and Senators to support it and be prepared to vote for the new revenues it requires.
But since the Speaker and the House Republicans have walked away from the framework, there is also one last opportunity to improve it: All (or most) of the new revenues should come from the personal income tax (PIT) not the sales tax. As we have pointed out, the PIT is a much more equitable way of raising revenue. And, because the PIT in Pennsylvania is only a flat tax it is a way raise revenues that conservatives can embrace as well.